THE COMMUNIST Party of Slovakia (KSS), as all other parliamentary parties, supported Slovakia’s entry to the European Union.
The Slovak Spectator spoke with Karol Fajnor, the party’s top candidate in the elections for the European Parliament, to find out what visions the party has for a united Europe.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): The preamble of the new European constitutional treaty is likely to include a reference to the continent’s cultural heritage. Should it mention Christianity or perhaps communism?
Karol Fajnor (KF): We all believe in something. I’m also a man of faith - I believe in a socially just, humane society. But that’s everyone’s personal matter, as long as we obey laws. Therefore, I don’t think any of these things should be mentioned in the preamble.
We will all be living in the union and [the constitution] should be above these issues. It should not mention socialism, just like it should not mention God.
TSS: Is there a need for a constitution?
KF: The EU can, naturally, continue to exist on the legal basis in place today. We should definitely take time to finish the constitution, because there are currently many provisions in the draft that I’m not convinced I could support. In any case, I think the treaty should be ratified by national parliaments, but also confirmed by referenda.
TSS: Which are the problematic provisions?
KF: I don’t think the EU should be a hamburger in which all Europeans are mixed together. We therefore support the Christian Democrats’ proposal that national parliaments retain considerable decision-making powers.
TSS: Is this your only concern?
KF: This is the main one, because we fear that our fate will be decided somewhere else and we [as Slovaks] will become mere observers of developments around us.
TSS: Couldn’t a referendum in Slovakia pose a threat?
KF: Not if people are better informed. [Before the referendum on EU entry], the pro-entry campaign reminded me of a promotion campaign for a new type of hamburger. An overwhelming majority of people still don’t know what the EU means.
TSS: But will it be possible to reach the statutory 50 percent voter attendance?
KF: I think the quorum could be dropped to, let’s say, 30 percent.
TSS: What issues are you focusing on in this campaign?
KF: We will be explaining two basic questions to the people - why vote for the KSS and why vote at all.
The KSS is a co-founder of the European United Left (GUE) and its programme is based on that of the GUE. There are four main pillars of this programme - full employment, social justice, social security, and environmental sustainability.
A fifth point, which makes the other four possible, is peace in Europe. All of this can only be ensured in peace. We want Europe to be a welfare state. We want Europe to be a good place to live and a place where there is real, not just proclaimed, equality of opportunities.
TSS: How do you explain to people the need to go and vote?
KF: What we are seeing today is a transformation of the citizen, of a homo sapien, into a machine required to create profit for his employer. [People should vote] in order for man to become man again - to enjoy life.
This is what we will be emphasising. People need to understand that a decent life is not only possible, it’s a necessity.
TSS: Among the points of your programme for EP elections is a call to “dismantle NATO as a futile military pact”. What does NATO have to do with the EP?
KF: As an MEP I will have a chance to decide on the security of Europe as a whole. Today the EU needs to take on some functions of a state. If it wants to do foreign policy, it has to have a defence policy.
That would make NATO obsolete. The EU needs to ensure its own security. NATO and the US should not have influence here.
Just look at what NATO did in Yugoslavia. They bombarded a beautiful country and today we are seeing an exodus of Serbs from their own territory because NATO is unable to protect them. NATO is not an organisation able to defend anyone. It has proven to be only an aggressor, and aggressors should be a matter of the past.
TSS: Your election programme also identifies solidarity in distributing pensions and family and unemployment benefits among your priorities. Should the EP have a right to determine the social and pension policy of individual member states?
KF: It should lay down the basic framework. However, that framework should only define certain loose boundaries within which states could act.
TSS: Which countries should join the union in the future?
KF: If the EU wants to survive it will have to cover all of Europe. So the countries of the Balkans, and countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia should all be there.
Once the EU covers all of Europe, integration should come to an end.
TSS: In what timeframe is this plan realistic?
KF: The smaller countries could join in a relatively short period of time. [The timeframe for] large countries, such as Ukraine and Russia, is something I cannot estimate. I personally wish for it to happen as soon as possible.
TSS: Who do you see as the next head of the European Commission?
KF: We discussed this within our caucus, but we decided to leave it open until after the elections. The results of those elections will show how much weight the opinions of various factions within the EP will have in the selection process. We know whom we would prefer, but I don’t want to get into it now.
31. May 2004 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila