Zdechovský: If you give up and hand over the tank, we will give you a reward

Have you been to Lviv recently, what experiences do you bring to the European Parliament?

I was not only in Lviv, but also a hundred kilometers to the east, where Caritas Znojmo and I brought humanitarian aid. There the aid was transferred to Ukrainian trucks heading east. We couldn’t go there alone with a car from the European Union, because the Russians shoot at the aid workers and call them Ukrainian agents. We saw with our own eyes that there are no medicines, bandages, toiletries, basic things. We saw these communities of women and children, we brought some of them to the Czech Republic. They only had small luggage, handbags. Colleagues could not imagine this. They keep repeating the need for a peace agreement with Putin.

This would certainly be ideal, but it would probably only work with another opponent.

It should be explained that Ukraine has no weapons and without them it cannot defend itself and lose the war. When he loses the war, Russia will not stop. Putin wants to recreate a Soviet empire. By supplying weapons, and the Czech Republic relatively intensively, we first slowed down sharply and then stopped the Russian advance. And he can decide. Ukraine itself does not have the armament capabilities of Central and Eastern European countries. And it was the Czechs, Poles, Slovenes and the Baltics who began supplying the weapons used to destroy Russia’s vast military force.

Is it possible to provide them with fighters?

It’s not just about them. The Czech Republic has sent a lot of quality weapons there, we don’t supply old scumbags that we have to get rid of. It also helps a lot because the Russians are using stuck and outdated technology, unable to maneuver quickly. On the other hand, we provide howitzers and fast, modern, digital weapons with guided missiles. One person only needs Ukrainians to destroy a lot of Russians and their techniques.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterates that the West should provide planes and weapons so that Ukrainians themselves can protect their airspace.

This must be negotiated now, and it will certainly be discussed in the halls of NATO. It is necessary to know how it can be delivered there. It doesn’t work by air and it would become an easy destination on the ground. You have to invent it and do it very quickly. As soon as Ukraine acquires 28 Mig-29 fighters, there is a high probability that Russian technology will be quickly destroyed in Ukraine.

How do you know that?

I am in several groups with Ukrainian MPs who share information that will appear in the media in two days, for example. When you think of the news of the siege of the northeastern cities, I heard it from the local deputies a few days earlier. Here we see that we are moving forward. Even for information, Russia is falling apart. He has a lot of troll farms, but they can’t catch up.

MEP Michaela Šojdrová called for securing a humanitarian corridor to Mariupol due to the evacuation of the population. It also talks about the limited no-fly zone. Is it passable?

I support it, but of course the letter itself will not change or fix anything. On a symbolic level, however, it needs to be constantly pushed and talked about. In any case, the humanitarian corridor is not realistic at the moment. The real thing is we’ll cover the hallway, we’ll use it to force it.

What are the real EU sanction instruments? Interrupting the energy supply so far seems unrealistic.

There are still “targeted sanctions”, sanctions aimed at specific people. We must extend the list of people who do not arrive in Europe. As Europe, we have a list of around 150,000 people that we can use. They must be business owners. They will begin to make a revolution. We must also sanction all those who participated in the war, the generals, the colonels. It is also necessary to propose to the person who goes and hands over his tank to pay a sum or a visa for Europe. These are all things we are discussing today.

Should Europe do something about the confiscated assets of sanctioned entrepreneurs? I have heard calls for it to be sold and the money used to fix Ukraine.

I am okay. It was the property that they mostly stole.

It goes against one of the fundamental pillars of Western democracy, the right to property.

Yes, but it’s only a war. In a war, you change priorities and you have to rethink a lot of things. This is to know from which activity the property was financed. It is important to cancel visas for everyone. Russian oligarchs have golden visas to Europe via Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Portugal and other countries.

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We also have oligarchs in Europe. Has the debate on how to handle the situation progressed?

Europe should finally introduce digital registers of oligarchs. We’ve been talking about it for years, but we just don’t have it and it doesn’t work at all. Europe is toothless. Everywhere in Cyprus, every oligarch is laughing here because he has set up companies operating throughout the EU, uses the free market, receives subsidies and launders money. Nobody knows where the money is going. The commissioner always assures us that he is working on it. How much time left? That’s why I didn’t take napkins with the European Commission this week. It’s a bunch of lazy people and alibis.

What got stuck?

They don’t want it because the Cypriots are against it, and also because there are different relations. It is not difficult to place an order and make the system. It was covid and now it’s not? Even my 17 year old could do it. There’s a lot of pressure, it’s a lot of money. It excites me. In the EU, we are fairer than the fairest, we can criticize everyone, from Taiwan to the United States. But we cannot solve the problem of money laundering alone. These are large sums that someone stole from European sources.

What would this mean for Czech entrepreneurs?

They would have no unfair competition from Cyprus and various opaque states. Everyone would know where the money was going. There are various entrepreneurs who hide and launder money in tax havens and then use that money for their legal activities. A decent entrepreneur who pays taxes and behaves fairly cannot compete with this.

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The European Public Prosecutor’s Office was created precisely because of the misuse of European money. That works?

In an ideal world, this would work. But we live in the EU, where it is a problem.

Would it be appropriate to prepare a new recovery plan as after the covid to deal with the effects of the war?

I don’t think it will work without it. The Marshall Plan for Ukraine will have to be done. It will be very painful, Europe must not pay, Russia must pay as an aggressor.

It could turn out as if the Czech was expecting Russian compensation for Vrbětice.

It is possible to take it out of the money we pay them for oil and gas.

Wouldn’t that mean a supply disruption?

I’m not entirely sure. A portion of each hectoliter could go to the recovery plan. There are quite a few of these options.

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