Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said an emerging front between Italy and Hungary is sowing “the language of hate and division,” after a video of his altercation with Matteo Salvini over migration policy went viral.
“It was enough. You can’t have such language in EU meetings, we can’t allow for that,” Asselborn told Playbook in an interview Sunday. “It’s the language of hate and division,” and isn’t conducive to “an atmosphere where we sit together and search for solutions and compromise.”
Footage of Asselborn’s clash last week with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini over migration — published online under the title “Salvini flattens Asselborn” — shows the Luxembourgish politician reacting to remarks from Salvini, who suggested Luxembourg wanted “new slaves” from Africa while wanted “to help Italians to make more children.”
Asselborn responded with the French exclamation “Merde alors!” — literally “shit then.”
“I don’t care,” Asselborn said about the exchange being caught on camera during the closed-door meeting, reportedly by Salvini’s team. “I would have said the same had I known that I was filmed,” he said.
Asselborn said the EU used to be about finding compromise, and spoke of his concern about an emerging “front between Salvini and Orbán that aims at making such language, and policies, acceptable.”
The Austrian presidency of the Council of the EU had no comment about the confidentiality of the meeting being broken, commenting only, according to Spiegel, that people shouldn’t interrupt each other.
EU leaders will gather for an informal summit focused on migration Wednesday and Thursday in Salzburg.