An interview with the Czech ex-president for the Parliamentary Letters (full video), via Klaus.cz, Part I
Trump and the whole West is experiencing the same events that the Czech Republic has been exposed to already since November 1989, namely the criticisms by the intellectuals from coffee bars and demonstrations against the free elections. That's what the former Czech president said to the Parliamentary Letters [independent, mostly nationalist left-wing Internet daily and forum for all professional politicians] and their "The Hot Issue" TV program. "In the U.S. and the whole Western world, an unbelievable assault against Trump has begun. America and the whole Western world were transformed into an upsized Czech Republic of a sort," the ex-leader said.
Mr president, the hot topic of the present is the new U.S. president Donald Trump. He has shocked many by the vigor with which he is signing one executive order after another and the most assertive criticisms have been voiced against his temporary immigration ban for several countries. A part of the diplomats has been incited to revolt and claim that the executive order feeds anti-American sentiments. Didn't Trump approach the beginning of his tenure a little bit too assertively?
I don't want to speak on behalf of Trump but I was intrigued by one idea – the beginning of Trump. I would tend to reverse this perspective. It seems to me that what has begun is something else. In the U.S. and the whole Western world, an incredible assault against Trump has started – and these are two totally different things. It looks like the United States and the Western world have been transformed into a king-size Czech Republic of a sort. Here in Czechia, we have already known these attacks by public intellectuals, the Academia, and cultural celebrities against the state, authorities, and top politicians for quarter a century and this experience has made us a little bit more resilient. Very similar things were born in the West and the West seems to be thoroughly frightened and panicking. Once again, it's been shown that the so-called politically correct workers of the world know how to get united against everyone who is doing some sensible, assertive politics.
It has something to do with a poll in the U.S. I was recently shown. The result says that Trump became a new record holder because his disapproval rate reached some 51% – he's disliked by a majority – already in the first eight days of his tenure. That contrasts with the likes of Clinton, Bush, and Obama who "needed" hundreds of days...
I don't believe such surveys just like I disbelieve similar polls in our homeland. Also, I have heard of another poll in which a majority of Americans endorses the order to suspend the immigration from seven, more or less extraordinary and extreme, countries for 120 days. It almost looks like everyone in Czechia is shouting while a majority of the Americans approves the policy. Moreover, it's usually being hidden that the list of seven countries was already assembled by the Obama administration. Obama wanted to introduce something like that, he wasn't fast to actually complete the plan, but Trump did so recently. The shouting is dishonest, the political issue raised by the critics is a fake one, and I can't agree with it.
A minute ago you compared the situation with ours in Czechia. Do you think that the protests and loud critiques will continue throughout Trump's tenure?
My worry is that the answer is Yes. A similar noise was taking place throughout my life in politics, all cafés in Prague were dominated by this topic, and chances are that the cafés that are connected with the Prague cafés, including the cafés in the New York City and D.C., will adopt this theme as their own, too. The reason is that the people inside these cafés don't possess anything else and they desperately need a politician who backs a clear and readable politics that is comprehensible to the people. They need him as a spark for their attacks. Without these sparks and attacks, they would have nothing to do.
Anti-Trump rallies have taken place in a plethora of the U.S. cities already from the inauguration day. Many of them were rather violent events with broken shop windows and burning cars. The name of George Soros sometimes emerges in relation to these events: he is being more or less credited for a part of these protests. What do you think about it?
I don't know. At the human, personal level, I really dislike Mr Soros. I have met him several times and I totally disagree with his attitudes to the world, opinions about politics, opinions about the present world. But to think that he is involved in everything? I don't know whether I could confirm such a claim. I don't have any strong opinion about that and any tangible information about it.
However, you also said that these were violent rallies where objects were burned. It's true and it shows what these self-described genuine democrats imagine under "democracy". They think that these events are a part of democracy, that it's not necessary to respect the results of elections. Their counterparts, the Czech Schwarzenbergian fans [Prince Schwarzenberg was a failed PC presidential candidate], were also refusing to accept the result of the presidential election which says something about them. But what it has to do with Soros, isn't clear to me...
What do you think about the argumentation that only Trump may be blamed because his behavior isn't judicious but rather insane, brutal etc.?
Trump obviously is a cause of these rallies – but simply because he behaves the way he wants to behave, and he wants to behave in a way that he believes to be the right way.
If I return to Soros. You said that you weren't certain about his role in the rallies. Do you feel that his influence is being overestimated or he is being blamed for things he has nothing to do with?
No. Using his wealth that is partially spread to assorted NGOs [non-profit, non-government organizations] across the world, institutes financed by him, and even schools..., he is certainly spreading certain ideas that completely contradict the beliefs of mine. But that's a different claim from the claim that he organized a rally in Philadelphia or L.A., something I don't know.
You have repeatedly criticized Soros. Recently you talked about your successful campaign to stop the project to build a Soros-funded university in Czechia. Then social democratic Member of the European Parliament Mr Libor Rouček was heard as saying that without your stupidity, we could have a Soros University in Prague but we don't have one and it's a shame. What's your reaction?
If Mr Rouček has used the word "stupid", he is fortunately so stupid that he doesn't know what such a university would bring us. But maybe he could be the president or a dean at that university and it's a big loss for him that he can't be one. For the Czech students, it is certainly no loss, however. By the way, these Soros universities in Eastern Europe aren't just for Hungarians. They are faithful to the slogan "Workers of the World, Unite" and the universities are primarily opened for foreigners. It's not a Hungarian university.
Back to Donald Trump. He is apparently planning to fulfill his most famous promise, i.e. to build the Great Wall on the Mexican border. The U.S. president is facing criticisms because of that, also from the European politicians. Donald Tusk, the chief of the European Council, has mused that America is the same threat for Europe as Russia or China. How would you comment on these words?
For me, it is Donald Tusk who is a threat for Europe and everyone in Poland has understood that he is a threat for Poland. They voted him away and picked a different government. As an argument, Tusk has no currency. But look at it rationally: Isn't a wall nothing else than an accurate definition of the border? I am fully convinced that the world needs borders. It's impossible to live in a world without borders and only dreamers enjoying their dreams about the global commonwealth may think that the borders are unnecessary. In my understanding, the borders are elementary prerequisites for all human communities and they have always been; and as long as the humankind remains human, it will need them.
America has a border with Mexico and we may see that this border is too long, full of holes, and impossible to protect by the border patrols. That is why America is getting ready for another method to delineate its borders and that's something I have no business of influencing. If they were able to defend their border without a wall, they could do it. If it's impossible without a wall, let them build one. The general concept of borders is something that I defend for fundamental reasons.
Isn't the wall too extreme a solution?
Israel is building assorted walls and we are not labeling these solutions as extreme. We have lived in communism and I often say that it was a world without borders because the Iron Curtain wasn't a border but something else. We were dreaming about the removal of the Iron Curtain and its replacement with the normal, penetrable borders where you can show your passport, spend two minutes, and keep on going. It was our dream in the communist era. But our dream was certainly not to live in a world without borders which is how some people are misrepresenting it these days.
If thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and other Latin Americans are percolating through this border, the U.S. has a right to solve it. I find it fascinating that the Mexican president will reserve 50 million dollars for attorneys who will defend the Mexican migrants in the U.S. – at least that's what I read somewhere. I can't imagine that we as the state institutions would be defending our migrants. I see no reason why the Czech state should defend someone who has voluntarily left somewhere to Tramtaria [a proverbial fictitious distant, usually uncivilized country; the name may have originated from Tatarstan] to get a better job. That's just business and a fake political game.
Europe has been also talking about the construction of walls and fences – those against the migration wave – and the opponents of this solution were comparing the walls and fences to the Berlin Wall...
The Berlin Wall was really something else. It was separating two politically and ideologically irreconcilable systems. It's an obvious extra fact that one of those was unacceptable in principle and many people were attempting to escape this system. At any rate, it was an individual exodus. But we are witnessing something entirely different now. We are witnessing mass migration, a qualitatively different phenomenon. We called it the Migration Period v2.0 in our book co-authored by Dr Weigl [Klaus' aide]. It is an organized process and a very different one than the events in the era of the Berlin Wall.
Would you endorse a hypothetical construction of a wall or a fence along a part of the Czech border if there were a risk that the migration waves would affect our homeland as well?
I don't know how much you need to be crossing the border in the Bohemian Forest or the Ore Mountains [parts of the "Sudetes" mountains on the Czech border]. I have no such need to cross the border near the peaks of the Bohemian Forest. An ordinary road with a well-defined border is enough. So I wouldn't be worried about a fence. Let me repeat that I am not urging us to build one and I hope that Europe will become wiser and will stop the migration at the external borders of Europe. But I wouldn't mind a certain fence. I don't need to cross the border on mountain paths and trails for tourists because the official border crossing seem good enough for the purpose.
At the end, let us return to Donald Trump who has invited your successor, the current president Miloš Zeman, to visit the White House in late April. Zeman will be one of the first leaders who will visit Trump. Do you expect some change of the American-Czech relationships because of this hypothetical Zeman-Trump link?
I cannot confirm your propositions or the hints that the meeting will take place.
People generally assume it will happen and Zeman and his office are confirming it.
Okay, I am not protesting. It would be the expression of a certain confirmation of the significance of the Czech Republic. However, I can't imagine that it would influence the affairs such as A,B,C.
A debate is ongoing about the future U.S. ambassador to Prague. Numerous people including Miloš Zeman welcomed the departure of Andrew Schapiro. Ivana Trump has been mentioned as a possible successor. Would you like it?
I don't know and I have never talked to anybody about it. The fact that Mr Schapiro, a missionary for Obama's ideology which isn't too acceptable for me, has ended his activities here is only good news for the American-Czech ties.
Questions were asked by Mr Radim Panenka, published on Parlimantary Letters on February 3rd, 2017