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“Major world political challenges are not decided in the capitals of Europe”

Karl Habsburg, the media entrepreneur and Chairman of the Austrian part of the Pan-European Union spoke to New Europe concerning the EU’s deficits, the disaster of the welfare state, sanctions in opposition to Russia and the following spherical of enlargement.

Habsburg was a member of the European Parliament from 1996 to 1999 and is concerned on the worldwide degree within the safety of cultural property in disaster areas (Blue Shield). As the eldest son of Otto Habsburg, he’s additionally head of the Habsburg household.

NEW EUROPE (NE): How a lot has the Covid pandemic modified Europe, the EU particularly?

Karl Habsburg (KH): All the stipulations would have been there to strengthen Europe by means of this disaster. A paper on European protection was printed about ten years in the past during which a pandemic coming from Asia was talked about as a potential menace situation. So everybody may have been ready. The precept of solidarity is current within the European treaties. Few individuals know that there’s even an EU commissioner for disaster administration. Tright here would have been the mandatory devices to react to this international problem in a European means. What’s extra, it was not nationwide pursuits that had been affected, however all of the residents of the European Union, and even the politicians, had been straight affected. So the European dimension was clearly there.

NE: But as an alternative, the pandemic made nation-states stronger.

KH: The essential query in a disaster is at all times learn how to reply. Do you settle for the problem? In this case, the query is a few international problem that isn’t restricted to well being coverage, but in addition has geopolitical and financial facets that react collectively. And, moreover, do you dig up previous political patterns and retreat into the obvious safety of the nation-state? How one responds and the way coverage responds is a query of political foresight. It is a query of political management and a query of the European thought. I’ve the very robust impression that we now have buried this European thought within the state parliaments and chancelleries of Europe, but in addition within the administration personnel on the EU degree. They are making insurance policies with soulless ideological ideas that solely look till the following election and are usually characterised by the dates of press conferences.

NE: EU cooperation by way of a typical overseas and safety coverage nonetheless leaves a lot to be desired? 

KH: It’s good that we now have a deputy president of the EU Commission, Josep Borrell, who’s answerable for overseas coverage, however the previous slogan of the German publicist William S. Schlamm nonetheless applies: “For a domestic policy, you need good accountants; for foreign policy, you need statesmen.” Borrell doesn’t have this geostrategic eye, as he confirmed throughout his ill-fated go to to Moscow final 12 months. Everyone suggested him in opposition to making the go to, then he was actually paraded in Moscow by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This additionally confirmed how Russia sees us (in Europe) amidst this fragmentation. 

NE: Putin doesn’t need a robust EU. He has promoted anti-EU events. The EU has imposed sanctions in opposition to Russia and Belarus, however do they work in any respect?

KH: If utilized accurately, sanctions can have an impact. But financial sanctions hardly assist as a result of they’ve a robust repercussion on us. Russia responded to the EU’s sanctions with reciprocal measures. The geopolitical approach continues to be legitimate. During the Cold War, Moscow decided the Soviet Union’s overseas coverage for the jap half of Europe in a totalitarian means. For the free Western half, the US, as a companion, was the figuring out energy. Without eager to offend anybody in Paris, Berlin or Madrid, it’s nonetheless the case immediately that the main world political challenges usually are not determined within the capitals of Europe, however in Washington and Moscow, in addition to in Communist-ruled China. Europe lies on the periphery of varied battle hotspots. Let us consider the Middle East, however allow us to additionally consider the jap border of the EU, the place we now have a zone of instability resulting from hybrid assaults. There is not any different approach to identify the weaponization of refugees by the totalitarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko. I advocate indicting Lukashenko’s regime on the International Criminal Court for crimes in opposition to humanity.

NE: How ought to the EU react to Putin’s threats? 

KH: If you need to take motion in opposition to Putinism, then you need to go after Russia’s oligarchs. Every one among them desires to have his account in Luxembourg, on the Isle of Man or some place else. Everybody desires to ship their youngsters to Swiss faculties or to Oxford. Everyone desires to make use of their home on the Cote d’Azur, their yacht in Monaco. This is the place we must always begin. You must make it clear to them: “You can’t have the cake and eat it, too.“ Our objective should be to help Russia on its path of decolonization in the direction of a peaceable, democratic state, based mostly on the rule of legislation, with which we are able to stay in a real partnership.

NE: Back to the EU. You warned in opposition to the large new debt that happened due to the Corona help bundle. But with out them, the EU financial system would have collapsed. 

KH: My warnings transcend Corona help. We have constructed up an exquisite system, the welfare state. But we now have merely reached a restrict the place we are able to not count on the entire world to modify to a Scandinavian system. The downside of a welfare state, which is not inexpensive, has existed for a very long time. And we now have merely handed on our issues – together with local weather safety – to the following technology. 

NE: A battle has damaged out within the EU over the rule of legislation. The European Commission desires to punish some nations – particularly Hungary and Poland – with cuts in EU subsidies due to violations of fundamental values violations, together with assaults on media freedom and LBGT rights. What is your place on this as a media supervisor?

KH: In precept, it’s proper to defend fundamental ideas within the EU, i.e. human rights, democracy and media freedom. But I additionally stand by the precept of subsidiarity, which was enshrined within the Maastricht Treaty. When I have a look at sure agitations which might be going down in opposition to Hungary and Poland, they appear hopelessly exaggerated. 

NE: So you might be defending Viktor Orban?

KH: In Hungary, too, issues usually are not eaten as sizzling as they’re cooked. I’m in favor of implementing a set of elementary European ideas for all EU members. I’ve the sensation that Orban is a pragmatist in lots of areas, one mustn’t condemn, throughout the board, all the pieces he does. It is well-known, for instance, that I stand for a European overseas coverage and that I additionally help the direct election of a robust European Parliament. The battle shouldn’t be a battle between Western and Eastern Europe, even when some individuals at the moment are stylizing it as a brand new division between East and West. This narrative is pushed by ideologues who use it to painting themselves as victims of Western Europe’s oppression of the previous Eastern Bloc to be able to construct the story that they’re the one ones (and the final ones) to defend Europe’s true values. In truth, it’s a battle between two statist, paternalist ideologies, the place one locations statism on the degree of the nation-state, the opposite on the degree of the supranational EU. Both ideologies are characterised by a primacy of politics, not by a primacy of legislation.

NE: You run a pro-European radio station in Ukraine. How did that come about?

KH: There’s comparatively little state media in Ukraine, so there’s a variety of room for personal media. Originally, I took over a music station there. I’ve at all times saved my enterprise space separate from my political pursuits. With this good intention, I shortly reached my limits in Ukraine. I labored with an oligarch (and later president) named Petro Poroshenko, who was not so well-known on the time. He was a shareholder in my first radio station, which we introduced into the black after which offered. When he turned president, I used to be requested if I didn’t need to flip it right into a pro-European radio station. It was the Russian aggression in jap Ukraine that put the nation on a European course and in addition united it. I purchased the station again. It was referred to as JE, which stands for Yes and EU in Ukrainian. Musically, we had been a form of Eurovision music contest. We additionally introduced information concerning the EU. Later we modified the station once more as a result of we additionally needed to report on the battle within the east of the nation. In Kiev, individuals hardly heard something concerning the combating within the Donbass. Now the station is named “Kraina FM” and broadcasts extra Ukrainian music. I’m additionally making an attempt to get extra licences, for instance within the Donbass.

H 51715323
Ukrainian troopers at a checkpoint within the nation’s jap Donbass area. 

NE: Should Ukraine be part of the EU and in addition NATO? Putin has threatened to launch a army invasion of Ukraine if this had been to occur.

KH: The easy reply is ‘yes’. If you need Europe to be full, then you need to make an effort to herald European nations that aren’t but EU members. Of course, they must fulfil the circumstances. But Ukraine is a European nation. For me, it’s additionally garbage when somebody says that the West has made guarantees to Russia not to admit sure nations. That has not been documented anyplace. We provide nations a system with a democratic and market financial system perspective. There is one other provide from one other state – a deliberate financial system and dictatorship. They are free to decide on. Ukraine has made it clear that it desires to orient itself in the direction of the West. EU accession will definitely not occur tomorrow, however the prospect of accession should be opened up. The identical applies to the nations of the Balkans, however to not Turkey, which is a rival of the EU. People who need to stop this enlargement haven’t understood the historical past of the European Union. 

NE: You are the chair of the Pan-European Union’s Austrian department, which was based 100 years in the past.

KH: 100 years in the past, a company was based in Vienna that’s nonetheless thought-about the origin of the concept of European unification: the Paneuropa Union. On November 17, 1922, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi printed his enchantment “Paneuropa: A Proposal”. Two days earlier than, he printed this enchantment in Vossische Zeitung in Berlin. There will likely be an anniversary congress of the Paneuropa Union in Vienna from November 17-20, 2022.


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