THE CHRISTIAN Democrats (KDH) chose veteran member and current head of the parliamentary healthcare committee Anna Záborská for the top spot on their ballot for elections to the European Parliament (EP). The Slovak Spectator met with the former children's doctor to discuss her political priorities as a future MEP.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): How do you explain the role of the EP to voters you meet?
Anna Záborská (AZ): Slovaks need to become personally involved in European matters. I strive to bring to life the European within each Slovak. Everyone should care about who is in the EP, about who speaks on behalf of Slovakia.
TSS: What specifically can you do for Slovaks as an MEP?
AZ: Slovaks want EU law to be in line with their national interests. It will be my role to represent those interests and, above all, to make sure that the principle of subsidiarity is strictly adhered to - the EU should not get involved in matters Slovakia can deal with on its own.
TSS: Are there any other issues you plan to bring up in the campaign?
AZ: The Yes to family programme the Christian Democratic Movement presented three years ago in Slovakia is just as topical in the European context. Every decision, every directive, has an impact on the family. I will be viewing all documents through this prism. "How will they influence families in Slovakia?" is the main question I'll be asking.
While I was an observer in the EP, I was active in the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities. A majority of women on the committee are leftist and liberal and I think it is necessary that a conservative voice be heard. That's why there should be a conservative woman from Slovakia in the EP. My other focus in politics is on healthcare.
TSS: The liberal tendencies in the EU have been strong for a long time. Are you satisfied with the present state of family protection?
AZ: There are attempts in the EP to put all forms of partnershipson equal footing with family. The danger is that the EP adapts different resolutions without sufficient quorum. There may be a majority of liberal voices at the present. But the acceding countries, especially those who share a deeper respect for values, such as Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, and Lithuania, are not afraid to stand up and say [what they think].
Even in the EP's conservative faction there is a liberal atmosphere and it seems as though there is some self-censure in place. It's as though people in Europe don't have the courage to defend conservative values.
My party has been criticised throughout the last 14 years for openly defending conservative values. That fire has hardened us. We have the predisposition to speak up. Many times, it's enough to speak up and then others join.
TSS: Does it bother you that it would be impossible to prevent Slovak women from having an abortion in another EU country, even if abortions were outlawed here?
AZ: Freedom of choice is a personal matter. We can't keep anyone from going where they want. Legislation is a different thing, however. If we have the opportunity to create legislation according to our beliefs [in Slovakia], we should take advantage of it.
But [outlawing abortions] is not only impossible due to a lack of political support. It is also not something we want at the moment. Even if we had a parliamentary majority, we would first have to change the way people think.
TSS: As a Christian Democrat, how do you feel about Turkey's entry into the EU?
AZ: The EU is becoming ever more multicultural and multiethnic. As a result, the economic advantages of the EU are coming to the forefront. It seems as though politicians believe that by speaking about common European values they could offend those other cultures or ethnicities.
If this is allowed to continue in the long run, we will cut off the roots and the European tree will not survive.
I think the talks with Turkey have been dragging on for too long, because member states realise the different religion could lead to trouble. We have to make a decision as soon as possible.
TSS: The EU plans to decide whether or not to start entry negotiations with Turkey this year. Are you in favour or not?
AZ: It's difficult to say. Personally, I feel Turkey is something alien to the EU.
TSS: Are the talks about the new constitutional treaty headed in the right direction?
AZ: The constitutional treaty is a very serious matter. It is therefore extremely dangerous to set any specific dates as to when the draft is to be approved. Judging by the debates I have witnessed, the issues are far from clear.
The EU will function anyway. It has continued to function after enlargement and it will continue to function. So let us discuss the issues.
We should not be afraid to speak our mind. Foreign Minister [Eduard Kukan] said that Slovakia couldn't afford to veto [any decision] or voice its concerns, which I find to be a negation of our national identity.
I have witnessed the self-esteem of other acceding countries not larger than Slovakia and, in comparison, our attitude seems servile. We need to realise that the countries of Europe are more appreciative of a partner who has an opinion, who is able to say no.
If we rush to an agreement, some countries may be left with a sense of resentment that could grow over time.
TSS: Should the constitutional treaty be approved by a referendum?
TSS: Who should be the next president of the European Commission?
AZ: I would like to see a conservative politician take the seat. The outcome of EP elections will decide which political group will have its representative head the commission. If conservatives retain their dominance, it is very likely we will be selecting the person.
[Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang] Schussel would make an excellent president. He is a man of consensus, who, at the same time, is not open to compromise on fundamental issues.
17. May 2004 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila