Leaders of right-wing nationalist parties from four EU member states have announced plans to create a European "patriotic" party that would protect the continent against immigration, "Islamization" and globalization.
Heinz Christian Strache (left) and Jean-Marie Le Pen want a pan-European alliance
The heads of Austria's Freedom Party, France's Nationalist Front, the Bulgarian Attaca party and Belgium's Vlaams Belang on Friday, Jan. 25, told journalists in Vienna that they had agreed to set up a new party in order to defend Europe from numerous challenges that it faces today.
"We say: patriots of all the countries of Europe, unite," Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache said at the news conference, also attended by French right-winger Jean-Marie le Pen, among others. "Because only together will we solve our problems."
Warning about the dangers that immigration and "Islamization" pose for Europe, the right-wing leaders said that that the new party would be based on European Christian traditions across the continent -- including non-EU members such as Serbia and Russia -- and that it would fight against the EU's centralized bureaucracy.
Volen Siderov leads Bulgaria's nationalist party Attaca
"It's important to have a federation of honest Europeans in Europe," said Bulgarian right-winger Volen Siderov. "We are for a federal Europe made up of fatherlands working together… We don't want a centralist federalized states."
The leaders declined to name any other parties the new movement was negotiating with, but ruled out talks with German right-wing extremists NPD and VDU.
The plans for a pan-European nationalist party draw a stinging rebuke from Austria's Social Democrats (SPÖ) who called it "completely absurd and contradictory."
"The project of European integration is aimed at a peaceful cooperation of EU states and, without any doubt, against nationalist efforts" said Elisabeth Grossman, SPÖ's spokesperson for European affairs.
What's in a name?
In order to become a recognized parliamentary group, the right-wingers will need to win over at least 20 deputies
The new party -- which is yet to get an official name -- is currently referred to as the "European Patriotic Party" or the European Freedom Party."
In order to launch a party on the European level that would receive benefits from the 27-member block, the right-wing caucus still needs to get the support of parties from three additional EU countries.
The group, however, hopes to extend their membership beyond the bare minimum and surpass the 20-seat threshold necessary to be recognized by the European Parliament.
"Our goal is clear, we want more than 10 parties as members and ideally one party from each EU country," Starche said.
An extremist deja-vu
European nationalists don't want Turkey to become a member of the EU
A previous attempt by European right-wingers to form a European parliamentary block called Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty (ITS) was short-lived because of internal disagreements.
The bloc was dissolved on Nov. 14 after Romanian deputies quit the group in response to racially insulting comments by an Italian politician.
Asked about the chances of success of the new party, Le Pen said "it's not necessary to hope in order to try, nor to succeed in order to persevere."
The new grouping does not want to see Turkey become a member of the European Union and vehemently opposes the efforts of the predominantly Muslim Kosovo Albanians to secede from Serbia.
The party is expected to be officially launched by November 2008.