Political analyst jiří Pehe believes that Chancellor Merkel, opening borders for refugees in Hungary, found a way out of a deadly situation. However, it was a mistake to invite other migrants, which Germany can no longer cope
The reason for the increase in authoritarian trends in some countries, according to page, the migration wave was not — she merely was the catalyst. And Russia understands that its actions in Syria will lead to a new wave of refugees to Europe and the weakening of the continent. And that is what Russia needs. So the EU will experience difficult times that could end the schism in the hard core and the rest.
Svobodné forum: One of the key aspects of the current immigration crisis is the position of Chancellor Merkel, who is blamed that she was invited to Germany all Syrians, although probably not exactly what I had in mind.
George page: Personally, I think Chancellor Merkel was not talking in General terms and did not invite all the refugees in that moment, she only reacted to a certain situation, which was that not only Germany but all of Europe not controlled refugee wave, accumulated thousands of refugees who occupied the Hungarian station.
The Hungarian authorities didn’t know what to do with them. The action of Merkel at the moment I consider as a kind of permission of a critical situation that has developed in Hungary. Likely, Chancellor Merkel should not have been after his invitation to refugees to Germany to make other statements that Germany will take all Syrian refugees who go to Europe. Rather, her statements were so received. And now the refugees do not stop in the Eastern countries, and go straight to Germany. As a result, in Germany million refugees, and the country is struggling to cope with the refugee wave.
— Whether democratic procedures, its understandable the delay, because democracy is always late, or the country and the EU can act faster?
Democracy is always late, and the decisions in democracy are taken for longer than authoritarian. And in the European Union, the delay is doubled because the EU is a sort of agglomerate of democratic governments separate regimes in national States. Unfortunately, the Union does not have enough authority for decision making at the Central level, to adopt them flexibly in such a crisis situation. In the criticism of the European Union, coming from nation States from different politicians, is a lot of hypocrisy, because national States have not developed enough for him flexible decision-making mechanisms. Actually, I think that the European Union is, of course, even in such circumstances, could react faster, but the leaders of individual nation-States in the European Council would have to agree that, for example, will create a kind of permanent crisis, a group of European politicians. She would as soon as possible effective measures which would then, at the next summit of the European Union, already stated. Unfortunately, this did not happen, so the EU continues to improvise.
— Can the EU, based on our experience last year, and many decades, to do something to change the situation for the better?
— The European Union has already done a lot of things that could change the situation. Has expanded the powers of Frontex so that border guards can operate in different countries — even against the will of these countries, which cannot cope with the pressure of refugees or may not protect the external borders of the European Union. But once again, we are confronted with EU regulations that this measure should be endorsed by the EU, and some countries have already begun to object, noting that this is too serious a violation of their sovereignty. And declare that even those countries that are not subject directly to the invasion of refugees, such as Poland.
We have faced two principles: sovereignty with the need to act together and to respond flexibly. I think that in the end the solution will combine several factors or interventions at the Central European level, such as strengthening external borders in the context of some other measures, in particular, attempts to create so-called “hotspots” and register the refugees. Just need to put pressure on Greece and Italy, creating an effective “hot-spots”. I believe that the other side of this decision, unfortunately, will come to Europe spontaneously by individual national States, which already does not want to wait, when at last United Europe to cope with the situation. I wouldn’t be surprised at the Domino effect, chain reaction, when individual countries will resume the border control. That doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Schengen, the control may be arranged so that it will not work, refugees, people without papers, and the citizens of the Schengen zone will still be able to move freely across borders, albeit with some delay, as the documents will need to present.
— What will you do with Europe possible introduction of a border control?
I assume that what is now Austria has imposed annual quotas on the number of refugees and enhance the protection of its borders, cannot remain without a response of those countries which are its neighbors. Of course, the question is whether this will lead to the displacement of this problem to the Balkans, which have always been unstable, and where the country has always had a complicated relationship. If there will be accumulate hundreds of thousands of refugees who will not be able to go further into Europe, this could increase the tension. The same, of course, concerns and suggestions, while theoretical received from the Prime Minister Sobotka, who probably came from the results of negotiations with other countries of the Visegrad four. Sobotka proposed to close the Macedonian-Greek and Bulgarian-Greek border. Either with the EU or unfortunately, that Sobotka did not specify — only the forces of the Visegrad countries. Of course, this would have consequences, which then resulted in a number of other events — it is difficult predictable.
— Can’t we because of the weakness of the current ruling Cabinet to sink to the authoritarian method of governance?
— Of course, the wave of refugees is a catalyst for the transition to an authoritarian style of government, but I think it still is not the cause. Between the words “catalyst” and “reason” there are differences. The trend towards authoritarian or, shall we say, Liberalno-democratic style of government in Central Europe is rooted much deeper. The refugee crisis only accelerated the process, and some populist countries have managed to win the election by a large margin, than if the problems with migrants was not on the agenda. So it was in Poland. But in General I think that, unfortunately, these trends towards authoritarianism and illiberal democracy are a much larger problem in Central Europe.
— Can the events develop in the same way as before the Second world war? Then, too, there were authoritarian regimes in Hungary and Poland.
— Yes and no. To some extent the development can be similar, because in our region since the days of Austro-Hungary there are, so to speak, the cultural and historical background to limited understanding of liberal democracy, for tendencies towards authoritarianism and the power of the strong hand. And today these tendencies are acting up again. The only difference is that in the West of Europe after the war, the experiment with liberal democracy was really successful — especially in Germany. And it happened because after world war II the Americans have spent substantial changes, and Germany became a small political miracle, successfully getting rid of what was Nazism, and turned into a functioning liberal democracy and rule of law. Today the values of liberal democracy in Germany was rooted so deep that, paradoxically, it was Germany, which at the time rules one of the two European totalitarian regimes, today is the most stable liberal democracy in Europe. If to speak about our region, compared with the period before the Second world the situation here is different: those countries, who at the time lived under authoritarianism, were surrounded by States that don’t want liberal democracy. On the contrary, they were often even more brutal regimes, such as in Germany and then in Austria. Today we are surrounded by countries that, rather, are an example of the opposite, and, of course, they do not have the Czech Republic to pressure it to become a totalitarian authoritarian state, which was in 1939.
— What role will Russia play? In our country it has its “representatives” such as Klaus and Zeman, and she now intervened in the Syrian conflict. As if Russia is interested that Europe was divided.
— Russia clearly plays a very negative role in what is happening in Europe. In the end, in Russian strategic doctrine among the enemies is not only NATO but also the European Union, and the Russians have been working on his split. The investigation, which was initiated by the United States Congress and U.S. intelligence agencies because of Russian funding of political parties in Europe, designed to harm the EU project, in General, not news. We all somehow suspected, or even knew about it. If to speak about Russia’s actions in Syria, from the outset, I am of the opinion that there is at stake not only for Russian interests in the region, where the Russians already have a military base, which is essentially their only outlet to the warm seas, and targeted efforts to further destabilize the region. This is done in order to Europe continued to run millions of refugees. Vladimir Putin, who has long sought ways to destabilize Europe, has now become a kind of political weapon of mass destruction. Since the main cause of flight for millions of people from Syria is the Assad regime, Putin would continue to insist on the preservation of the Assad regime. And this will increasingly destabilize Europe, unless we take some really drastic measures. Of course, Europe is trying to solve the problem, but there is a danger that in the end Europe will have to take measures that are inconsistent with basic liberal values. And thus Europe will harm himself. To some extent Vladimir Putin has already won this battle.
— Can the EU break up?
— I believe that the European Union will not disintegrate as a project, but there are different versions of how the crisis it could mutate. De facto it may be, in a sense, the collapse of the EU. One option is already proposed by the Netherlands for the reduction of Schengen to the borders of the countries North-West wing of the EU. They would be the core, which, of course, would cooperate on further integration more actively than the rest of the EU. That is, the EU would have existed in a double form, and what do we mean by EU integration and the present, would exist only in the designated hard core.
It is also possible that the crisis may go so far that in light of current events in the Visegrad countries — I’m talking about authoritarian regimes in the interests of self-protection or even self-defence 15 of the ancestors of the EU will declare that the extension to the East was a mistake. They can try to divide the European Union or, better to say, to bring “duality” so far that de facto the EU will be divided into those countries that share common values and are able to negotiate, and those that are, whether because of their regimes or the inability to participate in European decisions, somewhere on the periphery.
— Why are allies of the Kremlin, such as Klaus and Zeman? They want the collapse of the EU to have more power? Whether under direct orders of Moscow? Or their motives ambiguous?
— Eastern European and Central European leaders who behave in an authoritarian or sabotage the EU initiative on “discipline” Russia, probably, are guided by different motives. That is, these people do not possess basic democratic culture and are passionate about personal power. The European Union stands in their way, because that is the limiting element that turns them into something like governors of the Federal lands, and they certainly don’t like. To what extent they are controlled directly by Moscow, I could not decide. It is clear that in the context of these politicians, more specifically, Klaus and Zeman, there are people who are clearly very closely connected with Russia, Russian business and other things, so the effect may be indirect. Ultimately, all people who supply these politicians the money needed for travel, campaigns, and other things.
— Whether the United States is a little bit away from what is happening in the world?
Unfortunately, in the current international situation America is strongly closed in itself. On the one hand, it is clear: Obama inherited two wars that have cost Americans dearly and were very unpopular. On assuming office, Obama promised to withdraw from these wars. However, in my opinion, circuit of the Americas on its own and also a shift from Europe to Asia, to China and emerging tigers in the East — all this greatly weakened the U.S.-European relationship. If we refer to the system security, it remains indissoluble, and the American commitment to perform a duty within the framework of NATO and remain the same. The negotiations on a transatlantic trade agreement. Perhaps in the context of these negotiations is discussed more questions than it seems at first glance, however, at the official level, of course, the weakening of U.S.-European relations is obvious. The question is to what extent the situation will change after the elections in the U.S., as President there, most likely, is a politician who so decisively to Obama. He, apparently, decided that he would end his presidency and not starting anything new.
— Looks like our mentality has not changed much since the fall of communism…
— It is strange to see the Czech egocentrism in evaluating the surrounding world, including what is happening in Germany and Western Europe. Many people think that it is clear: they come from a deeply provincial position and not understand the basics of liberal democracy, as the world with its wide context. This surprises me, perhaps even more than the events themselves. Everyone who goes to Europe or the US, sees the difference even in the atmosphere. There also are actively discussing the situation, but the culture of debate there another. I expected that with the onset of the crisis after 26 years after the collapse of communism, we will be able to respond as a truly Western country, but not as still post-Communist state, which has awakened (as in other countries of the Visegrad four) provincial instincts in the style of “our hut with edge”. Recently I wrote a comment, which was called “Barbed wire in the head”. The first desire of Czech politicians, the most famous of them, such as the President of the Czech Republic and the Minister of Babish in the beginning of the refugee crisis was to hide behind this barbed wire, to restore the border and to urge: “Let us cut off and no one will let”. I find it strange that in a country that, 26 years ago was one big concentration camp, today a lot of people live with the illusion that with the help of new fortifications and the walls they hide from globalization or the influx of refugees. They want back to safety, that is, given their deep-rooted mental stereotypes of the Communist era, to be fenced off. It seems to me a disastrous occurrence. Politicians should explain to people that in the conditions of globalization there is nowhere to hide, however, some leaders such as the President or Babish, on the contrary, fueling stereotypes.