13 marzo, 2017
Vladimír Grácz: an ambassador of the Slovak Republic in Spain and his vision about the European Union.
Vladimír Grácz is an ambassador of the Slovak Republic, currently in Madrid since September 2012. He studied Law at the University of Košice in Slovakia and later he studied International Relations at the University of Moscow. He worked for 12 years in Latin America as an ambassador in different countries, and in 1995, as the Deputy Director of the Department of the European Union and NATO. His work experience is the main reason why I interviewed him. He has experience working and living in numerous countries around the world, including the European Union, so I believe that he has a lot that he can share about the pros and the cons of the European Union. The interview was a really good experience and I have learned that in international relations there are always new things to learn because everything is always changing.
On Thursday 9th of March, I went to the Slovak embassy to ask Mr. Grácz some questions about the European Union (EU), which nowadays is facing many problems, that may even be existential for the EU. The European Union, as I have said before, is currently facing a large crisis. The European Union has been in place for almost 66 years, is a home for over 503 million people, and it has had many positive impacts, but also many negative impacts. We are facing a refugee crisis that has been dividing Europe since summer 2015 and we have cases of nationalism, which refuse the European Union, such as have Brexit. All of these factors can influence an existence of the European Union. What are the main advantages of the European Union? Is the European Union and the Euro as a common currency advantageous or not? What will be the future of the EU? Is it possible that other countries will follow the decision of United Kingdom? What impacts could the refugee crisis have? And if the EU divides, what consequences could it have?
In Mr. Grácz’s opinion, the European Union is an amazing project and we should do everything we can to save it. However, the Schengen Union is damaged now because of the refugee crisis, although it was a great idea. It is freedom of movement emphasising the basic European values, which are the Human Rights. He believes that a common currency was also a great idea, because it helps European countries to carry out international economic trade with other countries. For example, one of the main reasons why Spanish industrial companies that have some of their manufacturing operations in Slovakia, didn’t choose one of the neighbour countries such as Poland or Hungary is the currency, due to less difficulties with administration. Moreover, throughout history, since the beginning of the humanity, we could see, that in Unity is power. But with Brexit now, we are loosing the Unity and it’s possible that United Kingdom won’t be the last country that will leave the European Union. Is it possible that countries like France would follow this action? What does Mr. Ambassador think about that?
France is preparing for a presidential election which is going to take place on the 23rd of March and 7th of April of this year. He doesn’t deny that they are thinking about leaving the European Union as well, but after the elections there will be a lot of work. Moreover, if they want to leave the EU, there must be referendum. All of these actions take time and the Slovak ambassador believes, that after Brexit, both, the UK and the EU will realize, that it was not a good idea. Firstly, due to the economic impacts, which he believes will dissuade other countries from following their lead. However, there are other reason than just economic, such are the refugees. In Greece and Italy there are thousands of refugees and these countries are not capable of dealing with it without the help of European countries. Even though they have some economic support, there are thousands of people entering and they will not be able to manage it just by themselves. Then there are countries like France that refuse the quota or countries like Hungary that close their borders. He believes that these are not the solutions and moreover, these are the actions that divide the European Union.
So what should we do? What is the solution that would be acceptable for everybody? Is the solution to send the refugees to the countries in which they don’t want to be, which is basically what the quotas are doing? Or is the solution to open the borders and let them all go wherever they want? And then what? The solution offered by Mr. Ambassador was quite simple: “Send them back and start to help them there.” “But there is a war “, I replied. “So then, we need to finish the war” he said. When I tried to give him arguments why is that not possible he stopped me and told me: “Everything is possible, if the war is not finished yet, it’s because somebody doesn’t want it to finish.” It’s going to take time to find solutions to these crises. I asked the ambassador what he thinks will be the future of the EU? He couldn’t answer this question. We will see what happen, but we need to cure Europe or maybe transform it. According to his words, the nationalists want less Europe, the federalists want more, but we don’t need less or more, we need a better Europe.