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German, Italian and Austrian presidents make joint call for strong Europe

AFP
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German, Italian and Austrian presidents make joint call for strong Europe
EU flags - the EU will vote for its parliament in June. Photo by ALEXANDRE LALLEMAND on Unsplash

The presidents of Germany, Italy and Austria called for a strong and united Europe in a joint letter published over the weekend ahead of June's European elections.

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The joint letter was carried in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera a month before the June 6-9 elections, where far-right parties are expected to do well.

"We see that the fundamental values—our values—of pluralism, human rights, and the Rule of Law are being challenged, if not openly threatened, all over the world," wrote the three leaders.

"At stake here is none other than the foundations of our democratic order."

Although they all hold largely ceremonial roles, the presidents are all tasked with ensuring respect for their countries' constitutions.

"It is therefore essential to defend democratic institutions and values, the guarantees of freedom, the independence of the media, the role of democratic political oppositions, the separation of powers, the value of limits to the exercise of power," wrote Italy's Sergio Mattarella, Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Austria's Alexander van der Bellen.

In Italy, the far-right Brothers of Italy party is in first place and credited with 27 percent in polls -- while in Germany, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is at 15 percent in second place behind the main centre-right party.

In Austria, The Freedom Party (FPO) is also expected to make gains.

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While Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni -- head of the Brothers of Italy -- is staunchly pro-NATO and pro-Kyiv, other far-right parties such Matteo Salvini's League and Marine Le Pen's National Rally in France are accused of being pro-Russian.

The three presidents said more European unity was necessary to confront those "who question basic democratic principles".

"Our liberal democratic order is deeply intertwined with the unification of Europe: by anchoring ourselves to a European community of values and legal norms, we have presented to the world a coexistence based on democratic order and peace," they said.

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