30/1/2015 - 12:00 am

Why Multiculturalism Has Failed and Where is Europe Being Directed? Opinion of the Czech President Mr Milos Zeman

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We managed to chat with one of the most outstanding European politicians Mr Zeman at the Let My People Live! forum that was held in Prague, on January 26 and 27. His opinions always stand out for their particular sharpness, frankness and directness. We managed to uncover his thoughts on some of the big events to have occurred in Europe recently.

Our readers are interested in a couple of things. One of them is to do with history – its distortion to be precise. How do you as a citizen and as politician regard the distorting of history to serve contemporary politics? A good example of this could be the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs’ [Grzegorz Schetyna] recent statement regarding the liberation of Auschwitz by the Ukrainians.

Yatsenyuk [Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine] said it too… I was the only politician, as far as I know, who publicly protested. You know, my answer will be surprising. These kinds of statements appear comical. But in politics it’s the most terrible thing to be comical. I don’t think that the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs will hold on to his position for long.

And what about as a citizen? How do you feel about this kind of thing?

History has been being rewritten since the beginning of humanity. Here one example: when there was a war between the Pharaoh and the Assyrian State, there was a statue on which was written, ‘I won’. Historical research, however, has shown that the battle ended in a draw. Both sides rewrote history for themselves. There are dozens of examples. George Orwell was occupied with this idea in his books. “He who controls the past controls the future,” he wrote. So, the distortion of history is as old as humankind itself. It’s nothing new.

Angela Merkel publicly declared that multiculturalism in Europe had failed. What signs of this failure can we observe?

Do you know the English expression ‘melting pot’? It’s worked for The US more or less but it hasn’t worked in Europe. It’s better to say, it has worked only in the case of some nations. In our case, the case of The Czech Republic, I always take the example of the Vietnamese. They have assimilated well. If there’s assimilation, a melting pot, then everything’s okay. But if in Great Britain for example Pakistani Islamists don't assimilate – well everyone saw the example of France a couple of weeks ago. In Germany, they haven’t seen this truth up to now. I don’t want to make predictions but you know what PEGIDA is [European Patriots Against the Islamization of the West – the German political movement that organises protests against the Islamization of Europe – Ed.]. This movement is gaining strength in Germany. And it will grow.

They didn’t have a native population. The indigenous population was essentially killed off. But what is Europe’s future in light of this? Where is Europe being directed?

You know, personally I’m inclined towards the Scandinavian model of the welfare state. In my opinion, it's the best solution for Europe. There is that Human Development Index which includes standard of living, life expectancy, the level of public health care – there are around ten points in total. Scandinavian countries always occupy the top places in it. If you take the Human Development Index as the criteria then you can’t be against going in that direction.

But can this model work in countries that are geographically larger with different ethnic demographics?

Why not? This is not a question of geography but of human potential, which there either is or there isn’t.

So the multicultural environment doesn’t factor in?

What do you mean by ‘multicultural environment’? There are Jews in Europe, they have a different culture. But as you can see, relations with them can be normal. With them there aren’t any problems. The Hispanic people in The US – there are no problems. If an extremist groups comes along, I call it an ‘anti-culture’, an ‘anti-civilisation’ – so, in this case, it won’t work.

The President of the European Parliament said in his speech that he is hearing many calls at the moment for the abandonment of the nation state. It lies at the foundations of European politics, which takes its beginnings from American origins. It’s what really interested me, since my position is that we can’t discard nation states, doing away with them in one fail swoop. Not only in the current conditions but also in the long term. What do you think?

In The US there are 50 relatively independent states. However, it’s still all one nation. You say that it is nation state but there are three nations there: the English, Hispanic and African-American nations (and of course Europeans but that one isn’t a big one). So is The US a nation state? It’s a multi-nation state! But those nations are able to live together. That’s the point. In some cases, that’s simply not possible. Let’s take Turkey and Armenia. They will always remember the genocide of 1915 and many other conflicts. So it all depends on the specific inhabitants.

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