We are publishing an interview with Herbert Kickl, leader of the FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria), who was Minister of the Interior from 2017 to 2019. The interview was organised through the European Media Cooperation and, in addition to Demokracija, the following media outlets took part: Unser Mitteleuropa / Wydanie polskie (Poland), Zur Zeit (Austria), El Correo de España (Spain), Magyar Hírlap (Hungary), Centro Machiavelli (Italy), Respublika (Lithuania), Vokativ (Croatia), Breizh-Info (France) and Lionel Baland (Belgium). In Democracy, we publish our questions and some questions from colleagues in other media that we consider to be the most important and interesting for our readers.
Your party advocates the introduction of a “hard northern” and a “soft southern” euro. How do you want to achieve this (benchmarks, parity, etc.), is there a need for two central banks and what does this mean for the stability of the Union? (Bogdan Sajovic, Democracy)
Kickl: The current coronacrisis has led to a sharp increase in the debt of European countries. The convergence criteria, which were originally considered irreversible, are no longer worth the paper they are written on. Almost no country meets the requirements in terms of deficit, debt levels and inflation rates. For months, there has been a debate behind the scenes about the increasing restriction of cash and the introduction of the digital euro, all of which is leading to a situation in which the net contributors are once again expected to take on the debts of the net recipient countries. This calculation cannot pay off, especially since, following the euro crisis in 2008 and 2009, the northern countries have already taken on the debts of the southern countries. We therefore advocate that monetary union should include only those countries that have comparable economies and can therefore also manage their economies together.
How do you think the Union should respond to the new wave of migration that we are clearly facing? (Bogdan Sajovic, Democracy)
Kickl: The FPÖ has been campaigning for years to finally stop immigration into Europe. In addition to the political commitment, the Member States must also be provided with the necessary instruments to protect their borders and to remove the illegal immigrants who are already here from the country.
In fact, the Union has been making a fool of itself for years, particularly in the Mediterranean, by acting as a refugee boat carrier and further encouraging immigration.
What do you think of the attempts at censorship (especially on the internet) that the globalist elites are trying to introduce, in collaboration with the Brussels Eurocracy? (Bogdan Sajovic, Democracy)
Kickl: The Internet could greatly enrich democratic culture if authoritarian regimes did not persistently and massively persecute free expression through censorship. We therefore reject all attempts to influence, censor and even pressure individual users on different platforms. The large digital platforms are happy to carry out these governments’ wishes to intimidate, as their fiscal privileges also depend on cooperation with individual governments and the Council of the European Union. This has led to an ‘unholy’ alliance between the tech giants and the Union.
Given that Austria is a member of the Three Seas Initiative, what is the FPÖ’s position on the future direction of the Initiative and Austria’s role in it? What do you think about the recent hints from Germany about a possible German membership of the Initiative? (Leo Marić, Vokativ)
Kickl: Any strengthening of Central European cooperation in the economic field is sensible and desirable. The involvement of the Federal Republic of Germany would be desirable in principle. However, given Berlin’s (foreign) policy orientation, such integration would bring mainly disquiet and would greatly complicate or even undermine the common positions that can certainly be found among the current members.
What impact could Merkel’s departure have on Austrian and European politics? (Mariann Őry, Magyar Hírlap)
Kickl: Given the people hoping to succeed Angela Merkel in the German parliamentary elections, our expectations that there could be a marked improvement in German politics are quite low.
Patriotism and nationalism are on the rise in the Visegrad countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary), but also in Slovenia and Italy. What is your relationship with patriots in these countries? Are you in favour of the creation of a large group in the European Parliament, in which the patriotic parties of Europe would be represented? (Yann Valerie/Breizh-Info and Lionel Baland)
Kickl: Since 2006, the FPÖ has been advocating the consistent cooperation of all democratic and constructive patriotic forces at European level. The creation of an even larger patriotic-freedom group in the European Parliament is not only desirable, but this cooperation will ultimately determine the continuation or demise of Europe as we know it. The creation of a major European alliance with 16 parties from 15 countries at the beginning of July 2021 is an excellent basis for this.
What should Austria’s migration policy be in the light of the crisis in Afghanistan? Should your country take in Afghans? What solutions do you advocate for illegal immigration? (Yann Valerie/Breizh-Info and Lionel Baland)
Kickl: The Freedom Party has consistently fought against illegal immigration and the abuse of the asylum system since the early 1980s. Recent events in Afghanistan also show that it would probably not be wise to send European troops to Afghanistan to pacify the country, but rather to consistently train the young and strong men who have sought asylum in Europe over the last 20 years and send them back to the country of their ancestors to fight for freedom. Of course, the Taliban takeover is not to be welcomed, but it would be fundamentally wrong to open the doors of Europe to all Afghans who want to leave. Instead, an alternative escape route must be created within the continent in order to provide protection and assistance to those who are actually persecuted in the region and to allow them to return to their homeland as soon as possible.
Is the government’s campaign against political Islam real or just an image campaign? What does the FPÖ want to do against Islamisation? (Álvaro Peñas, El Correo de España)
Kickl: Just as incredible as the immigration debate is the debate on the fight against political Islam. The FPÖ has proved that Islamism can only be fought effectively through restrictive measures, for example, when we expelled a number of imams. This is not what is expected of the current ÖVP Interior Minister, Mr Nehammer. On the contrary, his ministry was a catastrophic failure in the run-up to the terrorist attack in Vienna in November 2020, because this attack could have been prevented.
Why has Europe failed to integrate the Muslim diaspora over the last 50 years and why do EU countries continue to create closed ghettos where national laws are de facto invalid and the “Sharia” is fully valid? (Algis Klimaitis, Respublika)
Kickl: This question is based on the assumption that Islam can be integrated into Europe. Great scholars such as Bassam Tibi and Hamed Abdel-Samad see principled problems with this, and the experience of European agglomerations shows that our Western culture can only withstand immigration from Islamic countries in homeopathic doses. Therefore, even further integration efforts will not solve the problem of Islamic countercultures.
How important is it for you, from the point of view of Austria and the Freedom Party, to cooperate with like-minded forces in other European countries? (ZurZeit)
Kickl: Since 2006, the FPÖ has been campaigning massively for cooperation with European right-wing parties. Anyone who cares about the future of Europe must work to bring patriotic and liberal forces together. National self-pity is out of place here, because the challenges are manifold and many of them can only be solved by European consensus.
By Bogdan Sajovic