Czech Republic, Prague – Interview with Václav Klaus, Czech president from 2003 to 2013: “Quotas are not a protection against immigration, they represent their exact opposite. “
This interview conducted in May 2015 has been suggested to us by the author, the Swiss journalist Alimuddin Usmani, and it seemed us worthy to be released again today. Almost a year later, the words of former Czech President Václav Klaus are still valid and clearly illustrate the point of view of a part of the political right in Central Europe. Last autumn, Václav Klaus initiated a petition demanding the repeal of refugee quotas in the Czech Republic.
The former Czech president Václav Klaus considers that the imposition of quotas of migrants is not a protection against immigration and could even break the EU.
Immigration through the Mediterranean sea and its related tragedies have increased the concern of the European people about the phenomenon. We contacted former Czech President Václav Klaus, in office from 2003 to 2013, obtaining its opinion on the issue of immigration. Generally known for his criticism of the European institutions, he warned them against the current migration policy.
Alimuddin Usmani: Could you remind us what is your relationship with Switzerland?
Václav Klaus: I have no specific links with Switzerland, nor with any other country in the world. You are probably referring to my sister Alena who lives in Switzerland with his extended family, since August 1968, following the military occupation of Czechoslovakia by the troops of the countries of the Warsaw Pact. Actually, it just happens she’s in Prague for a few days.
AU: How EU countries can they defend themselves against illegal immigration?
Václav Klaus: Defense is only a second step. It is possible to defend ourselves, as far as we want to do so. I am not convinced of this will, however. The individuals may wish to defend themselves in Europe but European elites do not want to. They are convinced followers of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. The first step would be to impose the idea that immigration, and even more the illegal immigration, are undesirable and are not good for Europe. As long as this opinion is not present then it is not possible to defend ourselves.
AU: At the present time, most of the immigrants from Africa and Asia are trying to settle in Europe using the right to asylum, but their reasons are mostly economical. Do you think it would be desirable to facilitate immigration for economical reasons?
Václav Klaus: I do not think that a significant portion of immigrants come for political reasons, at least not in the true sense. Migrate for political reasons does not mean that anyone can migrate because his political system does not suit him. This would justify that anyone could migrate on the planet for political reasons. Someone who lives in the Czech Republic now could invoke this reason when, from a historical point of view, the country is experiencing a unique period of freedom and democracy.
I also believe that the expression of economical reasons is not quite accurate nor appropriate. These immigrants are basically looking for a better and easier life, thanks to the advantages offered by Europe. And a considerable part of these benefits are due to a paternalistic European social policy, the European welfare state.
AU: Most immigrants seeking political asylum in Europe goes to Germany, Sweden, France and Italy, almost never to the former communist countries. In 2014 the Czech Republic has registered about 1,000 asylum applications, while Sweden, which is a less populous country, received about 80,000. How do you explain it?
Václav Klaus: There are three reasons for this:
– The countries of the so-called old Europe, which are not post-communist countries, are richer.
– The former communist countries are still not as generous about their social policy. Thus, because they are poorer than the western countries, they experience, thankfully to their communist past, a dislike toward a comfortable social policy excluding the concept of merit.
– The countries of the so-called new Europe are still less known in Africa and Asia, they are not former colonial powers.
AU: In conclusion, in early May, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has again pushed for migrant quotas for each EU country (this would mean an increase of immigrants sent to the Czech Republic). What do you tell him?
Václav Klaus: During the first three weeks of May 2015, pressure from Brussels for migrant quotas have suddenly grown. I consider them a bad way and I am pleased that, for now, even the government of the Czech Republic seems to refuse them. Unfortunately I do not think that when pressure from Brussels will be even stronger, it will hold firm.
The quotas of migrants are not a protection against immigration, they represent their exact opposite. We are told that these potential immigrants, this mass immigration, mass displacement of people (which always came to destabilize the world through History), are part of an acceptable phenomenon. Personally, I think this would cause a strengthening of the migratory influx. The imposition of a quota of refugees, however, could have an adverse effect, it could break the European Union. It would not bother me so much but Juncker, Schulz and Tusk gentlemen would surely not want it.
This interview was conducted on May 21, 2015.
Originally published on L’AGEFI.