Even dogs would be treated better

Central Europe always think of itself as being a victim of something

Magdaléna Vášáryová
15 October 2015

Miroslav Krist’s interview with member of the Slovak parliament, former actress and diplomat Magdaléna Vášáryová (shown on Czech State TV 2 on 6 October 2015).

Translated by Julia Sherwood

Miroslav Krist: Speaking recently in the Václav Havel Library you said that if 600 dogs landed on a Greek shore people would rush to save their lives but they’re not so interested in refugees. What made you say this?

Magdalena Vášáryová: I don’t know if I said that people are not interested, but in any case, if it were a question of redistributing a thousand dogs, people would immediately get involved, they would get all fired up and start sharing photographs of all those doggies. Just today my mailbox was crammed with 250 appeals asking me to vote on Tuesday for new legislation on dogs [an amendment to legislation on pets brought to the Slovak parliament] but I’ve never received 250 e-mails about saving the lives of 60,000 Syrian children.

What does this mean, in your opinion?

This will have incalculable consequences, as I said in the Václav Havel Library in Prague, because one thing we’ve learned is that we’re not Christian. We simply aren’t. Christianity is just a kind of folklore for us, we go to church just to exorcise our sins. That’s all we do. But this situation has held out a mirror to us. I am very concerned because those children are watching us and they know that all this empty talk about loving thy neighbour as you love thyself, about us being this hospitable nation, is simply not true. The only thing that’s true is that we look out for ourselves and don’t give a toss about anyone else. This will have grave consequences. Just like radical Islam will have grave consequences for Islam as a religion, this attitude of ours will gravely affect our so-called Christianity.

About Islamization, let me try to quote exactly what you said or what’s been reported in the press: “We have betrayed our Christian values.” That’s more or less what you’ve just told me.  But on the other hand, wouldn’t you say that by fighting Islamization we might be defending our European, Christian cultural values?

The question is what we regard as our values. I think that we in Central Europe are scared of one thing. We must acknowledge that we are prepared to give up anything, not just our faith, to secure any position whatsoever. Over the past 100 years we’ve done it several times.  We should acknowledge that we are prepared to collaborate and give up anything, for any bit of certainty.. So first we go along with the Catholic Church and shout Heil Hitler under the fascist regime and then, immediately afterwards, a few years later, we close down the convents and defile nuns, and claim it’s all obscurantism.  We have to acknowledge that this is what we’re capable of, here in Central Europe.

But the history of Central Europe is rather complex.  Can you really simplify things in this way?

Well, simplify… Central Europe is a dangerous part of Europe. We always think of ourselves as constantly being the victims of something. Right now we are the victims of a Brussels decision, a US decision; a government minister has said that the US should urgently reach an agreement with Russia over a common course of action, and so on. But what will our own contribution be? Does our contribution consists of making a huge issue of the quotas? The thing is that quotas aren’t really the issue, it’s just proof that we are incapable of cooperation and are only defending what’s ours.  Either way, every politician, here in Slovakia too, will immediately hasten to add: But this mustn’t affect the amount of structural funds we’re receiving.

I know that you don’t agree with Prime Minister Fico’s approach, you have signed an appeal against his position; and the approach of Czech and Slovak politicians is similar…

In Hungary as well.

Yes, that’s right. What I would like to know is whether you understand where these politicians are coming from.

But of course I do. There will be an election in Slovakia next year, in Poland there’s an election in two weeks’ time and the simple scared folks are going to the ballot boxes. They’ll go and vote for those who tell them that we won’t let anyone come in here, who say don’t worry, you’ll be safe here and everything will be as it’s always been.  It’s quite obvious.

Let me give you some figures: in a recent survey 70 per cent of Slovaks said they don’t want immigrants. Can you imagine a situation when politicians would go against the majority of their people?

Actually, I think they ought to. At least those politicians should who want to go down in history as statesmen. I’m sorry but you Czechs do have someone who stood up to these kinds of things: he was forced to emigrate because you nearly killed him. He was President Thomas Masaryk, who had spoken up against all those falsehoods, these anti-Semitic campaigns. There are moments when you have to speak up. There’s no way around it.  And only those people who dare to speak up will go down in history as having done the right thing. Here in Central Europe that’s a lesson we ought to have learned by now.

Photo by Haeferl | Wikimedia