February 16, 2016 – Fort Russ News –
RT France, translated by Tom Winter –
|Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, 2003-2013|
There is a growing frustration with Brussels that threatens the EU. Will it resist the pressure? When did the idea of a union of the European nations get corrupted? Former President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus confides in RT.
RT: This year Europe marks the 25th anniversary since the creation of the European Union. Twenty-five years later, is the European integration process a success or a failure?
Vaclav Klaus (V. K.): I am not very happy with what is happening. At the time, I was very much in favor of the European integration process, but this process was transformed by the Maastricht Treaty, and especially by the Treaty of Lisbon, into something totally different. I call this the movement from integration towards unification. This was the beginning of the bad development.
RT: German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel recently told Der Spiegel that dissolving the union was a possible scenario – do you believe the union is in danger today?I broadly support the idea of much freer cooperation between individual member countries rather than a unified Europe.
V. K.: First of all, I would be very happy if the European Union turned into something else, so I see no problem, no danger, but rather an opportunity, a potential victory for the future. Brexit has been an important factor in this development, but I hope that Europe will finally begin its restructuring on its own.
If it is necessary to be radical, I think that the form that the European continent has today should change. I strongly support the idea of much freer cooperation between individual member countries rather than a unified Europe.
I believe that the first decision should be to totally stop the so-called “deepening” of the EU, stop accepting laws coming from Brussels for different EU countries. The second dream would be to go back, and for me, of course, the optimum would be to revisit the Maastricht Treaty. This was the transition from the European Community to the European Union. That would be a long-term goal.
I consider that anti-establishment movements in Europe – in France, Germany, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands – have real potential for change.
RT: Donald Trump’s election was seen as an example of anti-establishment forces gaining ground in the West. Do you have the impression that this is something temporary, or that these new anti-establishment forces could really change the status quo in the EU?
V. K.: I hope so, because I think these anti-establishment movements in Europe – in France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, and some other countries have a real potential for change. I do not share the labeling of these parties as populist and far right. Not at all ! They try to represent normal, ordinary people who simply want to change something in the country and are very angry at the establishment and its arrogance in many of these countries. So I hope it’s a positive move. The success of this movement will be another question. Nevertheless, I think it is a long-term process, it is a sort of awakening of the silent majority in the European countries. This is very important.
RT: With regard to the fight against the terrorist threat, you would prefer to eliminate Schengen and enhance security at national level …
V. K .: Undoubtedly.
RT: … and create a European army?
V. K .: Undoubtedly. This is the same problem of this shift from integration to unification. I would be content with free borders, but without Schengen.
RT: The refugee crisis remains on the agenda in the EU today. Why do you think the EU has so far failed to prepare a coherent plan to tackle this problem?
To stop the migration, just say “no,” but the EU is not ready to say it.
V. K.: I am referring intentionally to “migrants.” To call them “refugees” is a misnomer. The majority of these people from the Middle East and North Africa are not refugees, they are simply migrants who came to Europe in hopes of a better life, but it is not about “refugees.” It is very important to see the difference between the terms. As far as migration is concerned, it is a phenomenon which threatens to destroy European culture, European civilization. I am not a person who blames the migrants, I blame the European political elites who let this happen.
RT: Many have in mind that the only way to stop mass migration in Europe is to end the conflicts in these countries. Do you think that Europe should play an active role in Syria, in Libya?
V. K.: I am not sure that Europe can be a real actor, because there are so many different points of view in Europe that Europe is not able to function as an entity. But in terms of migration … I think there are a lot of technical issues, but to stop migration, just say “no,” and the EU is not prepared to say that. This is the main issue and the main problem.