The gathering in Germany is attended by far-right populist leaders from Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has declared that 2017 will see “the awakening of the people of continental Europe” at a meeting of far-right leaders in Germany.
Ms Le Pen - head of the anti-EU, anti-immigrant National Front (FN) party - said Britain’s decision to leave the EU will have a domino effect across the continent - adding that “we are the end of one world and the birth of another.
The gathering is attended by far-right populist leaders from Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, in the city of Koblenz the day after U.S. President Donald Trump took office.
Ms Le Pen said Trump "will not support a system of oppression" in Europe and denounced the EU as “a force of sterilization.”
Amongst the attendees of the meeting at the beginning of a year of high-stakes national elections was the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders - whose anti-Islam Party of Freedom is aiming to make headway in the March 15th Dutch Parliamentary election.
Wilders - who is currently leading in all national polls - was last month convicted of discrimination against Moroccans.
Matteo Salvini of Italy's Northern League and Frauke Petry of the four-year-old Alternative for Germany also expect to make gains this year.
The leaders are meeting under the slogan "Freedom for Europe" and aim to strengthen ties between their like-minded parties - whose nationalist tendencies have hampered close collaboration in the past.
"This gives us an opportunity to see how we stand with other European parties," a spokeswoman for Salvini said.
Left-wing protesters staged a sit-in outside the hall shouting slogans like "no border, no nation, stop deportation."
The Associated Press reports that not far away, demonstrators from the global AVAAZ activist group placed statues of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin, among others, in front of the city's landmark statue of Kaiser Wilhelm.
AVAAZ organizer Pascal Vollenweider said the statues of the dictators were meant to send a "strong message" to the nationalist politicians meeting that "global citizens are rejecting their old dangerous ideas."
"They are not fascists in jackboots, it's a different type of fascism, of course, but if you look at the ideas ... it's very dangerous, and we have to face it: these guys are carrying old, dangerous fascist ideas," he said.
Several leading German media outlets - including national public broadcaster ARD - have been barred from the meeting.