French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the rise of nationalist-populism in Europe, calling it a hateful “leprosy.”
During an address in the Brittany region of France, the unpopular globalist bemoaned the euroskeptic, pro-sovereignty sentiment that is systematically destroying the European liberal order and is threatening to topple one of its staunchest proponents - Macron ally Angela Merkel.
“I'm saying to you in the gravest terms: Many hate [the EU] but they have hated it for a long time, and now you see them rise, like leprosy, all around Europe, in countries where we thought that they would never reappear, in neighboring countries," Macron said in a thinly-veiled shot at the new Italian government.
“They’re saying the worst things, and we’re getting used to it. They’re making provocations, and nobody is horrified by that,” he continued, also condemning “resurgent nationalism and closed borders, which some are pushing for.”
Italian officials immediately hit back at Macron, including Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio.
“The insults of the gossipers Macron and Saviano do not affect me, they give me strength,” Salvini tweeted. “While they speak, I am working today to block the smuggling of illegals in the Mediterranean and to give back to the Italians the villas seized by the mobsters. There are those who speak, there are those who do. Kisses.”
Di Maio posted a screenshot of Macron’s comments, adding, “These are the words that Macron has pronounced. They are offensive and misplaced. The true leprosy is the hypocrisy of those who reject immigrants in Ventimiglia and seek to make immoral the right to demand a fair distribution of migrants. Solidarity is either European or not.”
The populist coalition that has taken the reigns of the Italian government wasted no time implementing stiff controls on illegal immigration, immediately rejecting migrant ‘rescue’ boats that have transported many of some 700,000 migrants who have landed on Italian shores in recent years.
Macron was one of the loudest critics of Italy’s decision to ban the NGO vessel Aquarius after it attempted to import 630 migrants from African waters.
“There is a degree of cynicism and irresponsibility in the Italian government's behavior,” he was quoted as saying by his spokesman.
Macron recently espoused the idea that 150-200 million Africans will inevitably migrate to Europe over the next 30 years, and called for measures to be taken to prepare for their arrival.
(PHOTO: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)