believe that new sanctions against Russia would be fatal for the EU.
Why can’t Europe give up this policy? An economic war against Russia
also means a slowdown for German economy, for all sides of the conflict.
Europe followed an independent policy, if European politicians put
Europe’s interests first, they would immediately call for the lifting of
sanctions. The problem is that somebody is in favor of these sanctions,
the United States want them to stay in place. It’s well known that
American energy corporations would like to push Russian gas out of
Europe and fill the vacant spots in the energy market with their own
shale gas. The United States are actually harming the European economy.
There aren’t a lot of American corporations on the European markets, so
sanctions are causing damage to Europe itself.
SS:You believe the U.S. is
deliberately pulling Europe into a confrontation with Russia. Why isn’t
dialogue possible? If I understand correctly, you think U.S. is
dictating its policies to the EU, why are EU states eager to comply, why
not go against the U.S.?
SW:Of course the
politicians, those behind EU strategies are under U.S. pressure. It is
clear that the goal of American foreign policy is to aggravate tensions
between Germany and Russia, to aggravate tensions between Europe and
Russia. And NATO is a tool the U.S. uses to spread its interests, to
extend its sphere of influence. Why do Europeans participate in all
this? That’s something to think about. Of course, we're seeing pressure
on the media. Last year German television reported on American think
tanks working with European, including German, media. And that's a major
influence. Delivering information is a real art and it has an effect
Of course we can think endlessly about why Europe doesn’t follow
an independent policy. But I am glad that's not always the case. We saw
the Minsk agreements, the agreements between Merkel and Hollande, that
were made without consulting Washington and that are not encouraged by
the U.S. These are the trends we must develop in Europe. We need to
understand that it's in our vital interests to maintain good and
peaceful relations with Russia.
SS:When we hear the term ‘West’ we
automatically think Europe and the United States, North America. Do you
think it’s possible that we’ll one day stop seeing these two parts of
the world as one?
SW:Of course I'd like to
see everybody in the world cooperating with one another. Many left-wing
politicians suggest disbanding NATO and creating a new collective
security system, which would include Russia. Obviously the U.S. would
also be a part of this system, and they would also act as a
consolidating force. But I see more and more cases when American
politicians, mostly Republicans, act absolutely arrogantly, steer Europe
towards war, encourage nationalism, and a buildup of military force.
Europe should have an independent policy, simply based on its own
interests and the interests of the European people.
SS:Another interesting topic - The
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – the planned free trade
agreement between U.S. and EU – tell me, if it’s a mutually beneficial
deal, why is there so much secrecy surrounding the talks about the
conclusion of this treaty?
SW: I think it's
obvious - these negotiations are kept private because they're unpopular.
Nobody wants people to know what the agreement is about because it
contradicts their interests. This agreement, the EU-Canada CETA deal,
all of them are related to one another. Of course, they aren't really
about establishing a free market, their main aim is simplifying the
customs procedure, getting rid of it completely. So these agreements
would be harming European democracy, harming European standards, they
would create a subgovernment of corporations, that would decide on
adoption of laws, that would be able sue entire states, that would
create a separate justice system. Not to mention that we’re already
being spied on by the USA. Germany’s intelligence service has passed
confidential data on European citizens, on European politicians to the
NSA. For me that's unacceptable. So if we decide on any new agreements
with the U.S. we should first think of our information security.
SS:You say America’s main goal is to
end relations between Russia and Germany – but is the U.S. succeeding?
Chancellor Merkel has recently been in Moscow, she’s held talks with
President Putin, the two states are cooperating during talks in Minsk…
Chancellor Merkel made a step forward. She was the one who initiated
the Minsk agreements. She is always holding talks with President
Hollande. I believe she is trying to resist U.S. pressure. There is a
well-known think tank - the think tank Stratfor, its chief clearly
stated that Washington is interested in creating tensions between
Germany and Russia, because when these two countries are cooperating,
it's much harder for the U.S. to fulfill its interests in Europe, to
impose its policies. And I believe the main task of the German
government is to focus on our own interests, to act more wisely. We
should act like a sovereign nation and not base decisions on the will of
Washington, stop submitting to its interests, to its wants and needs.
The German government should be independent from the U.S. Administration
SS:NATO is expanding its military presence
in Eastern Europe, the USA is deploying heavy weaponry there and in the
Baltics – do you feel there are valid reasons for this, should Europe be
afraid of something?
SW:That's a dangerous
policy, an irresponsible policy. This decision should be cancelled.
Eastern Europe doesn't need heavy weapons, it doesn't need troop
deployment. Otherwise we’ll be seeing the beginning of a new arms race,
Russia will have to keep up. This is a very dangerous policy. It's like
playing with fire. Guns and war should be completely out of question. We
just can't think in these categories, in military categories.
Demonstration of military might - that's a completely wrong path.
SS:Sahra, You just said that Chancellor Merkel is submitting to American influence – why is that?
SW:I don't know. You should ask Chancellor
Merkel about that, she has all the information. Of course Germany has
its obligations when it comes to NATO. But while Germany is a NATO
member, a member of NATO’s military structure, it has never had a say in
any of the bloc’s decisions, Washington has always been the only one to
make decisions in NATO. Of course Merkel understands all this. I'd like
to believe that she has the power to act independently, out of our own
SS:At the same time Germany is one of the
richest and most powerful European countries, it doesn’t have to depend
on the United States, does it?
not. From the economic point of view we're independent. It’s actually
not that easy to find a European country economically dependent on the
USA, we have our own economic ties inside the Eurozone. That is exactly
why we don't need the TTIP and other agreements that are being
negotiated. Germany doesn't need them, our export levels are quite high.
From the economic point of view, these agreements are completely
SS:Former West German chancellor Helmut
Schmidt has said in an interview to Deutsche Welle in 2007: “There’s no
threat coming from Russia. The threat is coming from the USA”. What
threat is this exactly?
attempts to expand NATO borders to reach Russia, attempts to establish a
new political order in Ukraine, make it a NATO member. These are
provocations, which create a dangerous situation - that's the threat.
Demonstration of military power, a new arms race – this could lead to a
military confrontation. That’s a threat to peace, a threat to the whole
world, in fact.
SS:What do you think of the Eurocomission
president Jean-Claude Juncker’s idea of a common European Army? Would
having its own army allow Europe to escape the U.S. and NATO domination?
I don't think the EU needs its own army. Member-States have their own
armies, and the only reason we need military force is for protection. So
I don’t see a reason why we should create a separate European army.
Europe doesn’t need a war, we don’t need to intervene anywhere,
following the American lead. Europe doesn’t need its own army to become
independent from the U.S. I think we should focus on reforming NATO's
structure. While this military alliance exists in Europe, the U.S., as
NATO's leader, will continue to force its policy on European countries.
SS:You’re saying often Germany’s dictating
terms to the EU, that Berlin has stop acting as the continent’s hegemon -
Why is German hegemony in Europe dangerous? It’s not a military
domination, not a political one, just a reflection of the country’s
SW:If Germany starts to
vainly instruct other countries, as it has already happened before, if
Germany once again becomes the European country that tells other
countries what to do, it will undoubtedly provoke aggression from other
countries. It frightens me that today, Germany and its Federal
Chancellor are hated all over Europe, provoke great opposition. I can
honestly say that the instructions that Germany offers to other
countries concerning their internal policy are meaningless. It's the
wrong policy. The strategy Germany proposes means that everybody has to
save money, minimize their expenses, that salaries and pensions should
be cut. This has no future. It will have a bad influence on its social
life. On the one hand we’re seeing people getting richer, while on the
other poverty levels are rising, especially among the middle class. The
prescriptions that Germany is trying to give to other countries are
SS:Let’s talk a little bit about
European-Ukrainian relations. You’re saying the EU Ukrainian policy has
failed. However, the Association agreement was signed, the cooperation
is growing – why is it a failure?
We should look at the results of this policy, and not only for the EU.
Ukraine has slipped into civil war, its economy has collapsed. And we
should do everything we can to come to such agreements with Ukraine that
Russia will agree with. Ukraine is a country that has traditionally
been tied to the Russian economy. If we look at Ukraine's heavy
industry, its market has always been Russia and not the EU, and it will
never be the EU. If we make Ukraine choose either to work with us or
with Russia, we actually pressure Ukraine to make a difficult choice,
and we become responsible for all the events that we see today. Of
course we should follow the policy of cooperating and collaborating with
Ukraine, that's absolutely right, but we have to do it without
excluding Russia and without blaming Russia for everything. That is
completely the wrong way.
SS:The number of Ukrainian refugees in
Europe has surged in the past year, the country is now among the top 6
states with most refugee claimants, along with Syria and Somalia. At the
same time the majority of Ukrainian claims are rejected (unlike the
Syrian ones) – why don’t European authorities want to accept Ukrainian
SW:Of course all this is quite
cynical. Europe is responsible for the aggravation of the situation in
Ukraine. People are trying to flee conflict and from this point of view
they're no different from the refugees from Syria. Of course let's not
forget about persecutions. As I have noticed these last months, and the
media has been talking about this, some members of the Ukraine
opposition are being threatened, some are killed. There are also combat
volunteers in Ukraine who are Neo-Nazis, who wear Nazi symbols. I'd
probably try to flee from such a country myself. And I find it
absolutely unacceptable that the Ukrainian government supports such
nationalist structures, and not citizens who are reasonably afraid of
all this, who try to flee, but are refused the status of a refugee by
SS:I’m just trying to compare the
situation around migrants from, say, Syria with that of Ukraine – I
understand the migration processes have gotten complicated, there’s more
people coming in than before, but nevertheless the Somalians and
Syrians get asylum and Ukrainians don’t: why?
no difference between those who flee from Eastern Ukraine and those who
flee from the Syrian civil war, which by the way is on the West's
conscience, as it was first and foremost the USA who wanted to overthrow
Bashar al-Assad, it's a country that was destabilized by the USA. And I
would say that it happens all the time. First countries are
destabilized, then a civil war begins. The West plays this game, but
then refuses to accept refugees. It's a common phenomenon that doesn't
only occur in Ukraine. There's a whole tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea,
where refugees drown and the EU watches dozens of thousands of people
die. Of course that is very cynical. All in all I consider it necessary
to improve the refugee policy. Only well-educated migrants are wanted in
the EU, those who went to schools in their mother country, so it would
be possible to save money on their education. That's why the refugee
policy is very restrictive, especially in Germany, where the number of
migrants is quite high. I don't know why the situation with Ukraine is
like that - maybe because some suspect that it is too close to Russia
and that influences the situation. But there is one general problem: the
fact that the right of asylum does not fully function in the EU. Many
people are under persecution, many people are afraid for their lives.
However not everybody is granted asylum and many people are deported.
SS:You said once that Syriza getting
into power in Greece is an uprising of the Greek people against the
dictatorship of finance, that it’s an opportunity for the whole
continent. Can they really change things? They don’t want to abandon the
euro, they continue to fulfill their IMF obligations and agree to more
SW:I think that Alexis Tsipras’
government can’t cope with the responsibilities it has. It’s trying to
show goodwill, trying to pay off debts, negotiate. And it’s obvious that
the EU institutions, the EU Commission, the IMF, and the Central Bank,
all share one goal- to put a knife to this government’s throat. If it
agrees to another austerity program, it will commit political suicide, I
mean agreeing to cuts in spending and a huge value-added tax – all the
things the former government did, which led to a catastrophe. And if
they don’t agree to this program, nobody is going to strike a deal with
them. That’s why it now seems that there is no way of solving this
problem. I understand that the Greek government is afraid to leave the
Eurozone, a new currency won’t be able to find its place on the
financial market, if they leave the Eurozone, there’s a high risk that
this currency won’t be valued on the international market, it will have a
very low cost. And Greece really depends on its import, especially
energy, food and medical supply, and in this case it won’t be able to
pay for all the products. Of course Greece is very worried and that’s
why they are trying their best to stay afloat.
SS:As you have said, the clout of the left
is on the rise in Europe – the Podemos of Spain is one example. At the
same time we see the right and nationalist parties gaining momentum – as
shown by the Popular Front in France. Can we actually witness a
political rupture in the EU?
SW:On the one
hand, I’m glad that many in Southern Europe are now acting against this
meaningless policy that threatens their lives, their well-being. When
people elect parties like Podemos in Spain or Syriza in Greece, it puts
pressure on the EU establishment, and I hope that this trend picks up.
On the other hand, there are many people that are disappointed by the
Europe we have, that’s why new right-wing parties appear, parties with
nationalist slogans. We see it in France, with the Front National Party.
This is very dangerous, as these nationalists, these right-wing
populists are becoming stronger. They’re talking about dividing Europe,
but they simply don’t have any new strategy, they have nothing new that
we can go forward with. These right-wing populists don't want to
increase taxes on wealth, they don't need a social EU. They base their
decisions solely on nationalist principles, on propaganda, and I'm
afraid that these movements will become stronger.
SS:Thank you. Goodbye.