Czechia, Prague – Interview with Václav Klaus: “the EU is a dead end, and the Brexit could open the eyes of the people in Europe”, by Alimuddin Usmani and Joseph Navratil, for LaPravda.ch.
This interview was filmed in mid June by Alimuddin Usmani and Joseph Navratil, for LaPravda.ch with Václav Klaus, Prime Minister (1992-1998) et President (2003-2013) of the Czech Republic, about topics such as immigration, George Soros, the Visegrád group (V4) and the Brexit.
La Pravda: We are in the company of the former President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus. Mr. President, thank you for welcoming us in your institute. In December 2015, Olympia publisher released a book that you co-wrote with Jiří Weigl. The book is called: “Migration of peoples, small manual to understand the current migration crisis.” During the first part of the interview, we would like to talk about this topic with you.
Mr. President, the Czech Republic, for now, has been spared by the massive wave of immigration, unlike Germany or Austria in particular. Do you think this might change in the future?
Václav Klaus: To start I think it could change very easily, because, despite the thousands of existing peculiarities, regarding the progress in matter of economics, social, culture, and so on, the Czech Republic is highly comparable to those of countries to which migrants are flocking. The reason why migrants do not come here is only due to the fact they do not know so much the name of the Czech Republic. I’m used to say that if they would leave any city in Germany to settle in Karlovy Vary, if they’d go from Linz to České Budějovice or from Sankt Pölten to Mikulov, they would find that the differences in living standards are not significant. That is why I fear, first, that the situation would eventually overturn. But, secondly, I consider even more important that this destructive force of the migration is in every sense significantly acting. Migration is destroying already Europe, including the Czech Republic, because it allows the EU to dictate to the 28 member countries things it would never have allowed itself in the past. All this has already transformed Europe and this is hitting us now and on a daily basis.
LP: What do you think about the proposal of the UDC (populist party in Switzerland), which aims to stop taking in more refugees in Switzerland and help to manage refugee camps near conflict zones?
Václav Klaus: These are for me constructive proposals that I doubt someone could achieve successfully. But of course that any initiative conducted locally, not in the war zone, but from places where people are migrating, is welcomed. This is obviously better than taking in migrants into our countries.
LP: Among migrants, there is a high percentage of young men who come without the intention to work. Some critics of immigration use the word “parasitism”. Do you think it an appropriate term?
Václav Klaus: I’ve never heard the word “parasitism”. We do not use that term here. I do not know how I could comment this. This is obviously a term a bit exaggerated but, on the other hand, one can certainly speculate that people do not come to us as a work force, they come for other reasons. If some people do come here just for a life without work by draining social benefits, very are generous in Europe, others come for political intentions, or even in a purely adventurous goal. All this is possible also I would keep the word “parasitism” for other circumstances.
LP: Last year, the American billionaire George Soros has written for the “Project Syndicate” his five-point plan to resolve the migration crisis. According to him, the European Union must take responsibility for the failure of its asylum policy, which led to a political crisis. What is your opinion on George Soros?
Václav Klaus: My opinion of Mr. Soros has not changed in a quarter century, it is constant. Mr. Soros is evil. Everything he says is wrong, everything he does is wrong. The quote is one of those phrases uttered by Soros. In this sense, I have always worked to ensure that its institutions do not get implanted here in the Czech Republic. I couldn’t have prevented the formation of small think tanks, but he never could turn them into academic institutes recognized by Czech law, there are more than twenty years that I opposed this, which infuriated him. He left for Budapest, so they must undergo this permanent presence that we have fortunately not. This does not mean he does not use other ways to expand his influence in the direction of the Czech Republic.
LP: Mr. President, regarding defense, don’t you think that the V4 group is a “puppet” of NATO and of the United States, that could be used as a shield against Russia ?
Václav Klaus: There are a little too much assertions in one sentence. I can hardly answer that question. The idea that the V4 would be defined as a specific group or as a kind of particular offspring of NATO is simply a great exaggeration, nothing like it was planned by someone of the Visegrád group. So much for the first part of your question. For the second part, we must say that the V4 has been for a quarter century, a dormant organization, which was about meetings. I do not minimize the importance of meetings, where people interact, it’s an important thing. During the ten years of my presidency, I have taken care to participate assiduously to V4 European summits. I considered all this as a good communication space. But nothing came over. The Visegrád group was never found in the foreground, except when it has established Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). I considered it something meaningful at a time when, shortly after the fall of communism, Western Europe was not so ready to do business with us. It was an important action. Since then, there has been nothing significant for the V4.
LP: Do you think then that this structure could be reinforced?
Václav Klaus: I will answer you. The V4 group emerged to the people, especially in Western Europe, because it has a common position toward migrants. This enabled him to regroup over a specific topic. A quarter century after the creation of the CEFTA, it again found a common topic. It’s a good thing we have tried so far in vain. The V4 group was not prepared to consent to what I’ve always expected of it, that through its historical experience, it could have carried certain requirements to the European Union, so that the latter do some things otherwise. There was always a government that agreed with me but never all four at the same time. The fact that they finally found a common topic makes me very happy but I do not expect a true extension. It was part of the question, you also mentioned Russia, I think.
LP: Yes, we wanted to know if the V4 could be used as a shield against Russia.
Václav Klaus: I do not know, I do not feel the need to attack Russia, it is futile and useless. I respect Russia, I respect the fact that she conducts her own policy, which is obviously different from ours or that of any other neighboring country. I am not in favor of an alliance against someone, I always made sure that we did not act this way. Furthermore, I believe that within the present V4, there is no space for it. Such an alliance could be concluded between Poland and the Baltic countries but it has no place in the V4 against Russia. It certainly does not fit for Slovakia or for the present Hungary, and the Czech Republic is in that sense strongly in a restraint. I’m not just talking about dissident websites, but also of the mainstream Czech politics. So I do not see anything in that sense and I do not see who would wish or want that.
LP: We approach the referendum on the Brexit. Can you comment on the attack in London against an MP?
Václav Klaus: These are two different things. If we wanted to suggest that the attack took place because of the Brexit or that it was arranged in order to influence the election, then we could link these two events. I prefer to talk about it like two different subjects. What I would like is one thing, and that would be that the referendum would lead towards a possible exit of Britain from the European Union. What I think will happen is another thing. On Monday, June 20, we will publish our official view multiple pages on Brexit, where we will take care to explain in detail our position. There are only a few developments left to do. First of all, we assume that British voters are not going to leave the EU. This is our analytical prognosis. The power of the media and political establishment is significant, even in Britain. Cameron’s betrayal of British voters and members of his own party has unfortunately been a success. So I think the Brexit will not take place. What I want is something else, whether it is or is not desirable. I think that Europe would highly need it. This would be the strengthening of a signal, there are already dozens of minor signals around us. This signal tells us that what happens with Europe is bad and it could have the effect of opening the eyes of many others in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. This may help to reveal the unbearable nature of the additional step taken by the European Union which continues right now. In German-speaking Switzerland, when I talk with people, I use the word “Sackgasse“. A dead end.
So, I’m speaking about a dead end, I really believe that the current Europe is, “thanks” to the UE, in a dead end. The sooner Europe will realize it, the better it will be. A positive result to the Brexit vote could have, in my opinion, a desirable catalyzing effect on the events.
Originally published on La Pravda.ch.
Interview realized in mid June 2016 by Alimuddin Usmani and Joseph Navratil.
Translated from French by the Visegrád Post.
Original video of the interview, in Czech and French: