“The level of our autonomy really is very small. With some exaggeration I can speak of myself as the honorary president of the Czech Republic,” Klaus said in his latest interview
At the launch of his latest book European Integration without Illusions, euroskeptic Czech President Václav Klaus gave an interview to the daily Lidové noviny, in which he railed against recent developments in Brussels. According to Klaus, fiscal integration within the union will lead to the suppression of freedom and democracy in a similar way that communism did.
Although Klaus told the paper’s weekend editionthat he feels no sense of schadenfreude over the crisis facing the EU and is not attempting to influence Europe’s leaders, his view of the prospect of fiscal integration in the EU is unequivocally damning.
“A European fiscal, redistribution or transfer union is a continuation down a dead-end road. It’s not a tunnel at the end of which I would see the light of hope. Of course we can completely rule out all freedom and democracy in Europe, in a similar way that communism strove to do,” Klaus said. Expanding on this prognosis, the Czech president said that loss of freedoms will be the consequence of certain people attempting to hold on to their hegemony and interests and that the removal of freedoms will be a consequence of this.
Rule of the Sarkozy-Merkel tandem
‘We can completely rule out all freedom and democracy in Europe, in a similar way that communism strove to do’In this regard, he singled out German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who are sometimes refered to as “Merkozy” for their seemingly lockstep coordinated actions. “The Sarkozy-Merkel tandem is now the most significant EU institution, and in no way is it based upon any paragraph in the [EU] agreements and treaties. Now Merkel and Sarkozy decide directly,” Klaus said, adding that their decisions have a direct impact on the Czech Republic despite the fact the country is not in the eurozone.
Klaus says the “seizure” of power by Sarkozy and Merkel was inevitable “because the EU institutions are simply toothless and in this context [of the debt crisis] worthless.”
Czech PM Petr Nečas (left) with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy (seated)
“Somebody had to seize the initiative, and at the present moment only those two have the real political power. Don’t look for anything personal in this: I’m not speaking about those two personally, but about the tandem of the two strongest European countries. And they would never be able to decide on so much if beforehand the role of the nation states had not been so dramatically suppressed,” he told Lidové noviny.
Klaus says that he has experienced firsthand how Sarkozy and Merkel now dictate decision making in the EU: “Previously, the 27 [member states] always sat down at a round table and consulted between each other. Now, at some point — and I have personally witnessed this several times — Mrs. Merkel stands up, goes to Sarkozy, they go off into a side room, then after half an hour they come back and one of them has a piece of paper and says: ‘We’re putting forward this proposal.’ And the proposal is accepted.”
Playing down nationalist speculation
When asked about whether his understanding of the nation state is as an ethnic entity, or as a mass of citizens living there within irrespective of nationality, Klaus responded the latter. “I can’t believe this is not clear,” he added.
In recent weeks and months speculation has been growing about Klaus’ plans for when his second and final presidential term ends in 2013. Some observers suggest he may form a new euroskeptic political party with nationalist tendencies. His expressions of support for Ladislav Bátora, who although never a member of the far-right National Party (NS) was closely tied to the party, have served to fuel the speculation.
Controversy ensued after Bátora was given a high-ranking post as an advisor in the Ministry of Education, headed by Josef Dobeš (Public Affairs, VV). According to a number of reports, Klaus was instrumental in his appointment. “I’ve never studied the National Party, it doesn’t interest me and I won’t vote for it. The Ministry of Interior has not banned so it probably has the right to exist, but I will never have anything to do with it,” he said.