France – Interview with Karim Ouchikh, president of SIEL, a French sovereignist party: “The renewal of identity that will allow us to embrace the European ideal again will not come from Paris, Berlin or London, but from Budapest, Prague or Warsaw.”
Karim Ouchikh is one of the French politicians who most clearly and openly demonstrated his support for the project of the Visegrád Group; he likes to refer quite often to Viktor Orbán. Mr. Ouchikh agreed to answer the questions of the Visegrád Post.
Ferenc Almássy: We met about a year ago, following your support of Viktor Orbán, at a time when the migrant crisis was in full swing, and the Hungarian government found itself under mainstream media fire. You took not only to the defense of Viktor Orbán, but you wanted to publicly declare your support by organizing a demonstration to prove it. Can you explain the reason for this positioning, even though a party such as the National Front did not make such a strong statement of support for Viktor Orbán whose migration policy is described by some Western media as a “far right” policy?
Karim Ouchikh: My objective in 2015 was to clearly support the voluntarist and courageous policy of Viktor Orbán, who had become aware of the migratory chaos that had hit Europe at the time: he wished to set up barriers to protect the integrity of his country and also of the Schengen area, as Hungary has a duty to protect the external borders of the European Union, like on her border with Serbia.
At a time when Viktor Orbán was overwhelmed with innumerable criticisms from all Western chancelleries, it seemed important to me that SIEL give him clear political support. That is why I called to organize a demonstration of support for Viktor Orbán on November 7, 2015, in front of the Hungarian Embassy in Paris.This initiative followed another SIEL event two months earlier which was organized in front of the German Embassy in Paris. We were contesting, at the time, the mad migratory policy of Mrs Merkel.
After adopting this offensive attitude against the Chancellor, we also expressed our general support for the policy of Viktor Orbán, one of the most active artisans of this spiritual, moral and cultural European redress that is currently taking place on our continent. We consider him a great statesman, one of the great European consciences, a personality whose courageous action will, I hope, make it possible to reconnect with this European ideal which we have unfortunately lost sight of in recent years.
FA: Let us be honest, sometimes, one can see in opposition circles, especially in France, a propensity to raise too many foreign politicians on a pedestal, one could see it for example with Putin, or with Trump. Don’t you have a too idealistic vision of Viktor Orbán and don’t you expect too much from him?
Karim Ouchikh: No, we take note of his political courage when he confronts the diktat of Brussels without hesitation, and of his concern for the common good of the Magyars which animates him when he leads, at the head of Hungary, a proactive policy aimed both at the economic recovery of his country and at the economic and social prosperity of his people. As a French sovereignist, I take good note of his will to found a new Europe.
For nearly three decades, the European Union has been marked by a seal of federalism, which tends to abolish borders and deny peoples, and to oppose this supranational project I find that few statesmen propose an alternative project which could radically revise the construction of Europe on the basis of a confederal institutional model. And among the few political actors who defends this other model, the one who carries the voice of the European peoples loud and clear is Viktor Orbán! With some others, he is the one who perfectly embodies this fierce determination of the European peoples not to leave behind their history, to never renounce an ambitious European plan. We do not exaggerate the echo he produces among European public opinion.
He was also the source of the “reactivation” of the Visegrád Group, a regional organization that works to promote the economic and cultural convergences of Hungary, Czechia, Slovakia and Poland, using always intelligently this local political leverage to weigh on the technocratic power that sits in Brussels. I see this institution as a good thing because I hope that a powerful eurosceptic bloc will be created, capable of outdoing the European Union bloc now composed of Germany and her allies (Benelux and Scandinavian countries), which right now rules Brussels. To this Euroblissful group, we must propose an alternative political power whose epicenter is in Budapest; in my opinion, Viktor Orbán is, in a way, the soul of the Visegrád Group, and also the craftsman of a renewal of the identity in Europe which draws its strength within the V4.
FA: Concretely, as a French political figure, how do you see the links that could exist between France and the V4, and what could be the French interests? Because it’s one thing that you like it ideologically, but what are the interests in this for France?
Karim Ouchikh: I see that France is under the influence of a double dependency. The governments of the Left and the Right which have succeeded one another at the head of the state for more than twenty years have shown an extraordinary atlantism which is confining to a criminal diplomatic servility! The Quai d’Orsay has given up practicing independent diplomacy, faithful to the Capetian tradition that Charles de Gaulle had so well preserved in the 1960s: an independent policy, a policy of equilibrium opposed to all hegemonies, which takes our superior national interest at the heart of our international action in France. Instead, France tragically follows the footsteps of Washington.
But I also strongly deplore the subjection of France’s foreign policy to the economic interests of Germany, particularly regarding the diplomacy practiced towards Russia. This new deal tends to pervert the mission assigned to the Franco-German couple, which since the 1960s has been the core of any European construction. The fact that France now renounces her position vis-à-vis Germany obviously creates a political-diplomatic imbalance to the benefit of Germany, which is clearly worrying for the future of the continent; I strongly believe in the need to preserve a balance between the great European powers, otherwise the risk is very real that any European ambition will be disrupted on the hegemonic claims of Berlin.
Personally, I would like France to join this group in Visegrád, according to a statute and a mode of cooperation which is to be defined, so that Paris can contribute to the recovery of Europe’s identity. In this way, it would also be strengthened in Europe – this enlarged V4 would undoubtedly lead to the Latin countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece) – a confederal Entente which would usefully counterbalance this Rhenish federal bloc, currently extending, along with Germany, to the Baltic Sea. If we succeed in building this unprecedented diplomatic alliance, we could dispense with an exit from the EU and the euro zone, which is the dilemma that bothers the French at the upcoming presidential and legislative elections. If we remain in the current framework of the European Union, we are condemned to pursue an adventure that has proved its institutional, economic and social failure.
The alternative is simple: either one leaves the EU, applying Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, like the United Kingdom, and also the euro zone, or it is decided to renegotiate radically the European institutional model to turn it to a confederal system. This prospect of amending the European treaties from the inside is now possible, whereas it was not possible four years ago because of the power relations of the time which have since changed profoundly within the European Union: Euroscepticism now dominates in many chancelleries and this new deal must allow us to renegotiate the treaties without having to formally leave the EU. However, I do not rule out the option of resorting to the referendum vote of the French to get out of the European treaties, if these negotiations were not to succeed.
FA: So, in fact, we are talking about Altereuropeans rather than Eurosceptics?
Karim Ouchikh: Eurosceptics are indeed in favor of an alternative to the contemporary institutional model: deeply attached to a European ideal that ultimately preserves the plurality of cultural identities of our continent, the Eurosceptics deplore that this genuine European project is now perverted by the present technocratic construction. In this sense, Eurosceptics are indeed Altereuropeans who refuse to condemn Europe to remain the back shop of the United States, ie. a mercantile economic space, open to the bad winds of liberal-libertarian disorder.
From this point of view, the Visegrád group seems to me to be at the forefront of this cultural struggle which aspires to finally reconcile the peoples with the European ideal.
FA: Are you referring perhaps to this cultural counter-revolution announced by Orbán and Kaczynski last summer? And do you think that is something that is applicable in France?
Karim Ouchikh: Unlike Poland or Hungary, the model of French society does not reveal any of its own identity power because France artificially bases her model on completely unobtainable “values of the Republic”, on an abstract “republican” model that denies what is the French being: a land, a history, a language … in short, a carnal relationship with France, without which our compatriots are incapable of locating themselves in time and space in order to find a common destiny.
Under such conditions, I believe that France is ill-equipped to face the challenges of the time such as the Islamization of Europe: France, as I recall, has a considerable Muslim community that has been shutting up for many years in an exacerbated communitarianism, at the risk of secession from the national community. This rampant Islamization is developing all the more as it thrives in France on a moral, spiritual and historical vacuum: this sociological ground is obviously conducive to the emergence of Islamist forces, quite obscurantist. This phenomenon does not exist in other European countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, in any case not in such proportions, precisely because these other nations of our continent have maintained a strong sense of common identity, often based on the cultural pre-eminence of the Christian fact, which is likely to hamper the development of models of civilization foreign to the traditions of our continent.
The renewal of identity that will allow us to embrace the European ideal again will not come from Paris, Berlin or London, but from Budapest, Prague or Warsaw.
FA: Your parents are of Algerian origin, and even you could be taken as an example of integration. You are obviously of a European heart and mind, so why does it no longer work in France, why don’t all immigrants become like you in France? And what made you a full European and a Christian?
Karim Ouchikh: I am a son of immigrants, born in France from Kabylian parents, who, I believe, succeeded in assimilation thanks to the school of the Republic. I rejoice every day to be born in France, in this wonderful country that I love intensely.
I am a Catholic, converted a little more than 12 years ago. My faith certainly constitutes an essential spring which animates my political commitment, which certainly urges me never to reduce France to the institutional model of the Republic and to always plead the central importance of her Christian roots.
I want to combat the secularist view of contemporary French society, which is reductive, insipid and mortifying. I am struck by how much the French are increasingly indifferent to their history, to the great figures of their past, to their millennial heritage. In other words, I want to re-enchant the model of French civilization, revitalize it by making it possible, for example, to integrate into the preamble of the 1958 Constitution the Christian roots of France. I also want to make it possible to admit that if religions are formally equal to one another, religions are not so in the light of the historical memory of our country: in other words, there must be a pre-eminence of the Christian fact resulting from a privilege of civilization granted to the benefit of Christianity. By bringing back to the core of public debate this identity dimension of the French image — in other words knowing where we come from — we can collectively project ourselves serenely into the future and renew our confidence in ourselves, which is currently lost. And so to resemble to our Hungarian, Polish, Czech or Slovak friends who have no torment, or so little, in terms of their deep identity …
FA: And in your opinion why? Why do they not have these problems that you denounce in France?
Karim Ouchikh: Probably because they were “protected” for nearly 50 years by communism, they were somehow sheltered from Western materialism, the Anglo-Saxon consumer society, so destructive of national identities , natural belongings and historical roots …
FA: Yet communism has attacked identities, especially the Christian heritage.
Karim Ouchikh: Certainly, but I believe that this planned demolition of the “bourgeois” heritage has not been carried out in depth, in a sustainable and systematic way, so that the clean slate policy practiced by Communist regimes hardly permitted the disappearance of the cultural and spiritual foundations of the Eastern countries, which quickly reappeared in the aftermath of the collapse of European communism.
FA: That is to say that you think that communism has caused less damage to the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe than …
Karim Ouchikh: … laicist thought in France? Yes, not least because the communist yoke lasted a few decades without totally dissolving the original identities, whereas France has lived, since the Enlightenment, in the 18th century, under the influence of a laicist thought, terribly destructive to its authentic soul.
FA: Yet you are yourself a defender of a certain economic liberalism.
Karim Ouchikh: I am indeed in love with freedom, because there are a number of bastilles in France that have to be reversed, which chain thinking in the media, which sterilizes knowledge in the national education system, which breaks the freedom to become entrepreneurs in the economical world … The liberal I am from an economic point of view places man at the heart of his reflection, cultivating a personalized vision of our economic society that would remain attentive, with an ordo-liberal purpose, to the Human dignity and respect for workers’ rights; in this field, I am thus very clearly connected with the social doctrine of the Church.
I believe very strongly in a model of society which would be oriented towards regulated development which, while always seeking to attain the necessary economic competitiveness, would not alter the alliance of all productive human forces.
FA: To conclude on the Visegrád Group, you mentioned earlier the United States, also Germany. How do you see the future and the role of the Visegrád Group in this kind of current Cold War between the United States and Russia? What changes do you think the Visegrád group could undergo, or bring?
Karim Ouchikh: Except for Poland, the countries of the Visegrád Group have good relations with both the United States and Russia. I believe that the vocation of the V4 is therefore to participate fully in the restoration of a peaceful dialogue between Washington and Moscow, which is now possible thanks to a disposition shared by their respective leaders who both aspire to leave the belligerent confrontation that had dominated international relations under the Obama administration: Ukraine, the Baltic countries, the Middle East … should no longer be the theater of recurrent diplomatic confrontation between these two great powers.
Another political ambition is that the Visegrád Group must also allow the emergence, in a multipolar world that is uncertain today, of a Europe that would at last be aware of its common interests, of a Europe that would be able to take part in the same common destiny, with the ambition to make our continent a major player that in the decades to come would compete with the United States but also with the emerging powers that are China and India.
In short, nothing negligible will be done for the future of our continent if this regional power that is the Visegrád Group manages to preserve its remarkable cohesion of identity, cultivating every day the cultural and identitarian ties that are today its strength.