Texts in English
Václav Klaus: Interview in the Italian journal “il Messaggero

1. How do you define yourself? Conservative, populist or right-wing populist?

When I founded my political party 28 years ago, I hesitated between the adjectives conservative and liberal. We finally decided to call it “Civic Democratic Party”. I am a conservative as regards culture and society, but a liberal as regards economic issues.

2. In your opinion what will be the result of the European elections?

I am not as optimistic as some contemporary EU critics. I expect that the EU critical parties will have better results than in the last elections but the EU-naivists will stay stronger. To my great regret.

3. Would a “Europe of Nations” be born after the European elections?

No. As I said in my previous answer, I do not expect any important or profound breakthrough. A potentially new constellation inside the European Parliament cannot make a significant change. The European elections should be, however, used in all European countries as a unique opportunity to seriously discuss European problems. Only the change in the minds of people can bring about a much needed transformation in the direction of  the “Europe of Nations”.  

4. What do you think about the “international right-wing populist” project created by Salvini?

I am not an expert on Italy but I don´t consider Mr. Salvini to be a right-wing populist. He is a person who wants to defend Italy as a nation, Italy as a territory, Italy as a cultural entity. This is, of course, totally against the EU mentality so clearly expressed a few days ago by the French president Macron.

5. Do you think Steve Bannon's influence could be useful to restore and to protect European soul, tradition and history?

I like Steve Bannon´s ideas, we had a chance to privately talk about them. The more of his influence the better, but we shouldn´t overestimate his influence.

6. What do you think about the Italian government and the agreement between Lega and Movimento Cinque stelle? Do you think it will last over time?

I am sorry to say that I don´t know. This is a very Italian question.

7. You are considered the father of the eurosceptics, what are the three things that you would change in the European Union?

There are not only “three things” which must be done in the EU. Its problem has many dimensions. At the legislative level, we should return before the Maastricht Treaty (of course, to get rid of the Lisbon Treaty as well). We should fundamentally change the two most important “unification” ambitions of the recent era – Schengen and the euro. We should stop mass migration. We should return decision making power to the nation states. 

8. Do you think countries like Italy should leave the EU? And what about the currency? Do you think the euro represents an obstacle to economic growth?

Countries like Italy should try – together with us – to change the current model of the European integration. If our common effort in this direction fails, leaving the EU is a real option. For Italy adopting the euro has proved to be a wrong economic experiment which is responsible for two decades of stagnation and of poor economic performance of your country.

9. The Italian government is often accused of having too many relations with Russia, what do you think about the EU's stances towards Russia?

We suffered under the Soviet imperial rule for decades. Due to it, we are sensitive to Russia, perhaps oversensitive. Nevertheless, we are aware of the important changes which have been made in Russia after the fall of communism. We should recognize them and respect them. They are not sufficient but they are not negligible either. I am convinced it is rational to accept Russia as a country with its own ambitions and interests. Italy is doing it probably more than some other European countries. I don’t criticize it. The case of Crimea should not blind our eyes.

10. What are the other global players with whom you think EU should intensify relations? Do you consider China and India opportunities or troubles for the EU?

Let´s take China, India, Russia and all other BRICS countries as normal partners, let´s not start a new Cold War. I am frustrated by the fact that I feel a new Cold War mentality on the rise. We were victims of the Cold War, we know something about it.  

11. Have you read Macron's manifesto, what do you think about it?

I, and our Institute as a whole, made a very strong statement about Macron which was published this morning in the main Czech daily. We disagree with it completely. It is not only wrong, it is extremely dangerous. This text is full of visions which – if implemented (and I am afraid it will happen) – would change the EU into an even more regulated, more bureaucratic, more antidemocratic, more progressivistic monster. We shouldn´t underrate Macron´s attempts to make his vision reality.

12. According to many analysts, the right/left opposition is superseded by the opposition between the people against the élite, do you agree?

I agree that the fight between the people (il popolo) and the elite is the fundamental issue of today. But the right/left dispute is here as well and will stay here in the future. It is connected with the first dispute – the elites are very leftist even though they are not aware of it (or pretend not to be).

13. Left-wing forces all over the continent think one of the most important problems about migration is that countries like the Visegrad group don't accept the redistribution of migrants, what do you think?

Redistribution of migrants across Europe is an unacceptable progressivist idea aiming at ethnic restructuring of our continent and at the gradual erosion of more or less homogenous European nations. Plans for the redistribution of migrants misuse the sufferings of the population of EU border countries like Italy which stems from unrestricted flows of migrants. Instead of protecting the EU borders, the European – basically pro-migration – elites propose redistribution of migrants and keeping the borders open. It is a social-engineering project par excellence which threatens European nations and their culture and traditions. The Visegrad group countries accumulated a tragic experience with such a progressivist ideology and are reluctant to repeat it again. There should be, therefore, no disputes between Italians and Central Europeans regarding the issue of migration. Our common enemy are not the migrants but the European elites who opened the doors for mass migration.

14. Matteo Salvini in Italy has inaugurated the closure of the ports, do you think that this could be the solution? And what about closing the borders? Orbán in Europe and Trump in the United States are building walls...

Closing the EU borders is a necessity. Human society is based on doors, gates, fences, walls, borders. To get rid of them is a utopian ambition, we should say it very clearly. I lived many decades behind the Iron Curtain but it didn´t come to our mind to get rid of borders. We wanted normal borders, not the Iron Curtain. I congratulate Italy for its recent decisions.   

15. Should the EU change its policies to support African countries?

Foreign aid has not proved to be much helpful. It helps the corruptive governments and bureaucrats, not the people. It is mostly a waste of money. The EU could help Africa by terminating its protectionism. When we do not let African goods come to Europe, we will have African immigrants. The only form of effective aid is to trade freely with these countries, without quotas, without limits, without bureaucratic barriers and without imposing social, environmental and other "standards".

16. Which politician (or political party) in Europe is the best player to support "klausism" theory of yours? Salvini? Orbán? Le Pen?

It is nice (and flattering) to be considered the father of “klausism”. I wish it were so. I have many supporters at the lower level of politics, not so many at the top. To my great regret, I haven´t yet met Mr. Salvini, but I often speak with Mr. Orbán. We have many similar views. 

17. What do you think about Trump being criticised on global warming?

Fighting climate is one of the greatest mistakes and tragedies of our times. It is very promising that President Trump is not afraid to say these things aloud. This issue is one of my topics. My book about the nonsense of the global warming hysteria was published also in Italy under the title “Pianeta blu, non verde” already ten years ago. Its subtitle was “Cosa è in pericolo: il clima o la libertà?”.

18. Finally, what is the alternative to multiculturalism? Do you think that Islam represents a threat to European culture?

Islam is not a threat to the European culture on condition it stays where it belongs, when it is not imported – and imported intentionally – into Europe. Islam is a religion which should be respected, Islamism is a threat. I totally disagree with the ideology of multiculturalism, which is a leftist collectivistic ideology of the modern, or post-modern era. But to be fair, I have to say that multiculturalism is a consequence of the tragic way of post-modern thinking, it is one of its aspects. We should stress that the world should be multicultural (it is not necessary to have artificial universalism – including the dominance of the Western culture), whereas the individual nation states like Italy or the Czech Republic should remain monocultural.

Václav Klaus, Il Messaggero, March 9, 2019 (written in English, but published in Italian).

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