,,We cannot accept refugees who do not respect our culture, values and laws. Those who violate these basic principles should lose their right to hospitality and have to leave Europ,” said Manfred Weber, EPP Group Chairman in an email interview. This interview was originally published in daily Pravda in Slovak.
According to many observers refugee crisis is the biggest challenge in the EU history. German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces criticism for her approach, for her open door policy, especially from Bavarian CSU. As CSU politician what is your view?
Migration is a huge challenge, but we should not exaggerate. The EU has already mastered a lot of crises and challenges. From the debt and financial crisis to the reunification with Central and Eastern Europe. My party the CSU but also the CDU and the European EPP member Parties share one same main demand: The number of refugees has to be drastically reduced. But on the other hand we have to offer our solidarity and provide humanitarian aid on the spot, to the crisis regions in our neighbourhood.
Should Germany, but the EU as whole, sets yearly limit for asylum seekers, or not and why?
We stand for limited EU contingents for civil war refugees and these would have to be shared by all member states. We want to help those who are fleeing from war and terror. But we have to send back home those who have no right to asylum and take advantage of our readiness to help.
How do you see the future of Schengen, any possibility that Germany will close its borders and/or will support the idea of so-called mini-Schengen?
The refugee crisis is a European issue which we can master only by working together. We need strict external border controls with a real European border protection force that also decides who is eligible to enter European Union. This has not worked until today and needs to change. All Member States have to contribute in order to achieve that goal and strengthen FRONTEX. Safe external EU borders are the precondition for Schengen and free movement. We all want to preserve Schengen.
In the times of fragile economic growth is refugee crisis a problem, or an opportunity? E. g. it is pretty clear that Germany will have to spend more money on social services, but also on police.
It is both. Europe is a strong continent and should deal offensively with problems. Today in the refugee crisis, we experience the failure of nation states in Europe. Who stays in his national cocoon has no chance in a globalised world. But there are clear limits to what we can afford. We cannot be naïve.
After attacks in Cologne how do you see the issue of integration of migrants?
We cannot tolerate violence. We cannot accept refugees who do not respect our culture, values and laws. Those who violate these basic principles should lose their right to hospitality and have to leave Europe.
What is your view on Slovak policies towards refugee crisis? Slovak government said no to quotas, but this is also a position of Slovak EPP parties.
Europe is based on solidarity. Slovakia benefits from this solidarity too. Therefore it is important that the country shows its solidarity with others. Let us talk about the way. It is essential that we work constructively on a solution to the migration crisis. I am convinced that we can find common ways when we stop hiding behind our shadows. Having a negative attitude offers no solution.
Do you understand why 4 Slovak political parties which are ideologically close and members of EPP cannot cooperate more deeply? In general, what do you think about, many observers would use word total, defragmentation of Slovak political centre-right scene?
In the EPP Group the MEPs of the Slovak delegation cooperate well together. Madam Anna Záborská is a respected and active member not only of the Slovak EPP delegation, but of the entire EPP Group. How our Slovak member parties cooperate at home is their national issue.
There is definitely a competition between SMK, KDH, Most-Hid, SDKÚ in the election campaign. Do you think this is a main reason why they are not very able to sit around one table?
I think, we possibly could repeat one day the success story of 1998-2006 when your parties managed to lead the country out of political misery.
When visiting Slovakia will you encourage more cooperation of EPP parties , and how? Will you meet their representatives together or separately, what is your preference, and why?
Bratislava offers a very good platform to deal with the future of Europe. We will debate topics such as its social dimension and the review of the budget of the European Union. I am pleased to meet with all our partners for an exchange of views, especially regarding the upcoming Slovak EU Presidency.
There is also another centre-right party on Slovak political scene, Sieť. Could Sieť be another EPP member?
It is up to the EPP party, not the EPP Group in the European Parliament, to decide on new member parties. The doors are always open to those who share our values and ideas in Europe.
Do you think Slovak EPP parties should find the way how to cooperate with Smer-SD, especially after the election, or they should explicitly exclude this possibility?
My political experience says that you need to build alliances and coalitions to reach your political goals. In that situation you have to analyse with the potential partner the compatibility on topics like the rule of law, democracy, media freedom, human and minority rights.