Vaclav Klaus: “They Prolong The Ukraine War To Justify The Existence Of The European Union”

Vaclav Klaus: “They Prolong The Ukraine War To Justify The Existence Of The European Union”

The former president of the Czech Republic sounds off on Wokeism, the deep state, and Trump

Vaclav Klaus is an economist who served as president of the Czech Republic from 2003 to 2013. He is a famously outspoken critic of anti-human environmentalism, the European Union, and Wokeism. We interviewed him last Thursday at his institute in Prague to get his thoughts on the recent European elections, the Ukraine war, and threats to Western civilization. I think you will enjoy this conversation as much as we did. We edited the interview for clarity and length.

Former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus (author photo)

Shellenberger: What is your view of the recent European elections?

Klaus: They are not real elections because the European Parliament is not a real parliament. It’s not an authentic parliament. There can't be serious elections in Europe because Europe is not an entity that has a people and a similar topic for someone from Finland, Ireland, Cyprus, and Czech Republic.

On the other hand, at least in our country, it is a big opinion poll on what is relevant for the future of the European continent. Our government, which is crazy—five political parties in a non-homogeneous coalition—is not unified and practically lost the elections. If we recalculate the European elections into the Czech dimensions, into the Czech parliament, the governing coalition suffered a dramatic decline, which suggests some hope as regards the potential change of the Czech political domestic situation.

Nothing will happen in Europe. Europe is a post-democratic entity, and the quasi-elections have practically no role. The European Union will go on, regardless of the election results. Madame von der Leyen will be reappointed as the boss of the European Union, and all the crazy projects that started with the Green Deal will continue.

I think the ruling Eurocrats’ main message is, to use the American phrase, “Some extremists try to spoil our important work of the last couple of years, but we shall overcome.” That’s how they will continue. They will try to suppress all the critical voices. So it’s a mixed blessing, and I have mixed feelings about it.

Shellenberger: Do you believe that Europe is dying?

Klaus: Those are strong terms. For someone like me, there is a strict difference between Europe and the European Union. To mix these two terms together is missing the point

It was me, as Prime Minister, with all my criticisms, who sent the letter asking for EU membership. My signature is there. But we had no other choice as an ex-Communist country. We didn't have the luxury of being Switzerland, sovereign and independent, for centuries.

We were greeted all over Europe as members of the European Union. “Welcome to Europe!” they said. And I always protested: “You should say, ‘Welcome to the European Union.’ We have always been in Europe, even in the darkest Communist days. Don’t push us.”

Europe, as a continent, will not die. The question is how efficiently will European society function? To say it is dying is an overstatement.

Photo Credit: Cecilie Jilkova

Shellenberger: How would you evaluate the efforts of right-wing populists in France and Germany to moderate their public image and agendas?

Klaus: “Populist” is an unacceptable term in this room, building, and institution. “Populist” has no meaning and no substance. This is just a political label — a wrong, crazy, and dangerous political label. To call the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Le Pen party in France as “populist” is a progressivist attack on rational thinking and political freedom. To use that term is to accept the von der Leyen terminology.

Shellenberger: Okay. So, how would you evaluate the efforts by right-wing parties in France and Germany to expand their appeal?

Klaus: Those are normal, or practically normal, political parties. They just don't shout “Viva Europe!”

The AfD is probably more on the right than Le Pen’s party; it is not quite clear. As an academic social scientist, I would use different terminology than they use. To call them populists is wrong.

Mr. Macron is not my cup of tea. I am always afraid of his policies. That’s one issue. There is a very complicated political structure in France. “Left” and “Right” have always been confused in France. This confusion is more visible in other countries in Europe, but it is always special in France. 

Shellenberger: We interviewed some of the political leaders of AfD in Germany and were surprised that they wanted to re-migrate even legal immigrants who had arrived in Germany legally. Do you think that's too extreme?

Klaus: Extreme is one thing. My interest is whether it's pragmatically possible. In this respect, my answer would probably be no. It can't be done.

And I am a fundamental critic of the migration process. I have been a hundred times all over the world, traveling, giving speeches, having state visits. Maybe one thousand times. But I will never migrate. I have never lived abroad. I think that migration is a non-normal state of affairs.

When we discuss migration, I immediately try to interrupt the debate. Do you speak about individual migration or mass migration? The difference is crucial. No one would protest against individual migration, which has happened permanently throughout human history. Mass migration is a different phenomenon.

In Europe and the United States, mass migration is based on the totally wrong idea of multiculturalism.

Shellenberger: Why have European leaders allowed so much migration so quickly?

Klaus: I don't want to say that they are stupid.

Shellenberger: You don't want to say it because you think it's true? 

Klaus: On the one hand, they wrongly believe in the idea of multiculturalism. On the other hand, they always find a picture of a two-year-old [migrant] child sitting on a boat.

Shellenberger: So it's a kind of pathological altruism?

Klaus: It is pathological. I am very much in favor of a multicultural world and monocultural nation-states. The difference is fundamental. It’s multiculturalism. It's just the other way around. They want to introduce multiculturalism to individual countries.

Shellenberger: Before the European elections, there were many accusations that Russia was giving money to journalists and political leaders through Voice of Europe. What was behind those accusations? Is there any truth to them?

Klaus: No. It is a political game. I don't take it seriously.

Shellenberger: But it's striking to us that the Czech, Polish, and German intelligence agencies claimed that they had information that Voice of Europe was bribing politicians. Have you ever seen that sort of thing?

Klaus: You should add another important entity, the U.S. secret services [intelligence agencies]. I don't know.

Shellenberger: Have you ever seen that before? Or is it new for intelligence agencies to make accusations before an election?

Author with Vaclav Klaus (Photo Credit: Cecilie Jilkova)

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