Salvini on Time cover, 'new face of Europe'

'Immigration czar leading mission to undo EU'

(ANSA) - Washington, September 13 - Anti-migrant Euroskeptic League leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has earned the front cover of the latest Time magazine with a photo captioned "the new face of Europe", calling him "Italy's immigration czar who is leading a mission to undo the EU".
    Inside, Time ran a long interview with Salvini, who is also deputy premier.
    The rightwing populist leader has spearheaded a tough new stance on migrants since taking power in May, turning back NGO rescue ships and vowing to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants.
    He has also sounded combative notes on EU budget limits.
    Salvini tells Time that "we are working to recover the European spirit that has been betrayed by those who lead this union".
    The minister says "it is clear that I must change the European dynamics".
    Time's Rome correspondent Vivienne Walt speaks of Salvini as "the most feared man in Europe", "the captain whose rocketing rise over just six months has jolted Europe's establishment and threatens to finally upturn a political system that has reeled under a populist surge for the past three years".
    Walt says: As Europe began dealing with an unprecedented influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, Salvini sensed an opportunity, broadening the League's message to encompass a trenchant nationalism (and in the process dropping the Northern from its name). "He seized on Italians' frustrations over their debt-laden economy, sluggish growth and a more than one-third youth unemployment rate, and minted a new slogan with Trumpian echoes: "Italians first." On EU change, Salvini was quoted as saying "I choose to change things from within". "That is more difficult and longer and more complicated. But it is a more concrete solution." "History will entrust us with the role of saving European values," he tells TIME, listing among those values, "the Judeo-Christian roots, the right to work, the right to life." He also links migrants to crime - a charge his detractors say is a racist lie. Again, he brushes off the criticism. "If I can reduce the number of these crimes, and the presence of illegal immigrants, they can call me racist all they want."

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © Copyright ANSA