Already in 2020, you came to the same place with the aim of establishing a joint strategic air base with the United States in Ostrava-Mošnov. You raised the issue again in your candidate speech. Do you feel supported for this?
It’s not just about support. Now is an opportunity like never before. Indeed, the Alliance has hinted that in the face of Putin’s aggression, we must strengthen the eastern wing.
When I suggested it a long time ago, not just two years ago, it was a bit of a scout act, when a significant part of society was scared. Now they are afraid of people for something completely different: that Putin does not stop here or come here.
It’s about who has the facilities of the Alliance’s deterrence capabilities on their territory, so that they have the best preconditions to not end up like Ukraine. Ukraine didn’t make it, it didn’t have one, and we all see how it happened.
In your speech, you described us as a frontline state, which sounded like a pretty strong statement. What do you think this means for us in practice?
That the time to feel that we have a carefree shed in which we can afford anything, because we are not in danger, is separated from Russia by Ukraine and Slovakia is far and we we’re just such a western isle of the east.
Suddenly everything is different. We see that those who do not care about their safety can end up very badly. The before state is the “on the spot” state.
We have also recorded statements about the name of our country (Even before the invasion, Russia demanded the withdrawal of Alliance forces in Eastern Europe to the position of 1997, when the Czech Republic was also not a member – ed. Note). We must take them seriously and plan accordingly.
We must be ready to welcome the military infrastructure of the Alliance at home. It’s a completely natural thing. The Italians, the Dutch, the Belgians, the British, the Poles, the Romanians do it, so why not us?
Many today emphasize that NATO will come to our aid in the event of a threat.
This is the strongest security guarantee we can have. Of course, it’s “one for all, all for one”. But we also have to contribute something.
Do you encounter the oft-mentioned increase in defense spending to 2% of GDP?
Yes, but not only. We must take the modernization of the Czech army seriously and be ready to deploy our troops to other countries on the eastern wing, which we are currently doing in Slovakia or the Baltic countries.
At the same time, however, we must be prepared to house the Alliance’s military infrastructure at home. It’s a completely natural thing. The Italians, the Dutch, the Belgians, the British, the Poles, the Romanians do it, so why not us? When you have such an infrastructure, even the countries involved take your safety more seriously than when you’re a black passenger who doesn’t care.
How do you assess, as a Member of the European Parliament, the capacity of the EU to act in favor of Ukraine?
So much so that we cannot yet do without the United States, because they have essential deterrence capabilities. We must do everything not to disrupt the transatlantic link.
Can’t the European Union alone do more?
She could certainly do more, but she has no nuclear deterrent…
I will ask differently, what more could she do with the current equipment?
The pinch level has its limits. So far, however, we have not stopped payments to banks that collect this gas. It is certainly a possibility of tightening, which Russia would feel, including us, but especially them.
In connection with the war in Ukraine, there is also talk of a possible end to the Green Deal, for whose opponents you have long paid. Is it definitely for you since the invasion of Russia?
No, no one erases it completely. Not even me. But I would change more than the general will today. There are things that have led ODS to never have such a “green” program as it does today. At least the parts that really mean something for nature conservation: more respectful agriculture and the protection of biodiversity, water and soil. We also have it in the government program.
Where I have been critical are the decarbonization proposals. I think the union is in a hurry and approves faster than they think. It will be a global problem and we will not have partners for it in the new world. When Europe gets better, it’s about eight percent of emissions, and if Russia, China, India and the United States are not added, nothing will change anyway.
Moreover, we are now in a situation where, unfortunately, the whole transformation, under the influence of Germany, relied on gas, that is, on absolute dependence on of Russia. From an existential point of view, in my opinion, we cannot afford to remain in this state. So it will require some adjustment.
What could that look like?
My opponent on this issue is Frans Timmermans (Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for achieving EU environmental objectives – editor’s note) I recently testified orally before me in Brussels that we may not be able to do without coal for some time, because there will not be the necessary gas in the quantity expected.
On the other hand, in a situation where gas is expensive and there will be a shortage, solar panels on the roofs, flashlights on the ground floor and a heat pump in the basement are of course the solution. But again, it can’t happen overnight, and not everyone has it. It will cost a lot of money and the subsidies only have a limited effect, but it is a path towards some decentralization, so it is perhaps more important than before.
Coming back to the Congress, what do you personally consider to be the most important goals for the ODS?
Zbyněk Stanjura said the best (re-elected first vice-president of the ODS and minister of finance – editor’s note), namely that we will want to govern not for two or three years, but for eight years, that is to say two (electoral) terms. That’s the point.
This brings me to the question of whether the ODS should aim for a separate candidacy for the next parliamentary elections, or in the merger discussed with the People’s Party and possibly TOP 09?
I see no reason to change the strategy at the national level when coalition cooperation in SPOLU (ODS, KDU-ČSL and TOP 09) works. I am conservative.
So can he imagine it for the next legislative elections?
I will if it works as well as it does now.