ZAGREB – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at a campaign rally this Saturday in Zagreb for the European National Party (PPE) as it moves toward the next European elections, challenged everyone present to combat the growth of nationalism in Europe.
“We must combat the advance of nationalism that is out to destroy the project of one Europe for all,” Merkel said after stating there is nothing contradictory in building a united Europe and at the same time being proud of your own country.
“Europe is a work of freedom. You know that I also lived under a dictatorship, I couldn’t travel to the old Yugoslavia...” the chief executive of the German government added in reference to the former East Germany in bondage behind the Iron Curtain.
After the reunification of Germany 30 years ago, “we all worked so we would all have the same rights, peace and freedom,” she said.
The chancellor made her statement at a meeting in the Croatian capital where she was accompanied by her compatriot Manfred Weber, PPE candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, chairman of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).
Interrupted by the applause of some 6,000 HDZ loyalists, Merkel asked for their vote for that group, a member of the PPE, in the elections for the European Parliament being held next week between May 23-26.
According to HDZ sources, this was the first appearance of the chancellor at a campaign rally for these elections outside of Germany.
Analysts see her presence as unusually strong support for Plenkovic, and the reason, he believes, is because his party has made such a great effort to halt the growth of far-right nationalism and populism in Croatia.
Weber also rejected everything to do with extremism and populism when he slammed the event being held this Saturday in Milan by the far-right and ultranationalists brought together by the leader of the Northern League party, interior minister and vice president of the Italian government, Matteo Salvini.
“My answer is that I will fight with all the means at my command against this destruction of Europe. There is no way we will reach an agreement with them – they will not form a part of the Manfred Weber majority!” the European Commission candidate said.