Billionaire George Soros clearly has an agenda of his own, but he has long been a supporter of the European Union. Given that, when Soros said in a recent interview that “the EU is on the verge of collapse”, it garnered a good bit of attention all across the globe.
These recent comments come from an interview between George Soros and Gregor Peter Schmitz of the popular German magazine WirtschaftsWoche.
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Soros on German Chancellor Angela Merkel
The interview began with a question about German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Soros was largely positive on Merkel, both in terms of her courage in standing up to Russian aggression in the Ukraine and elsewhere, and in her efforts so far to handle the ongoing migration crisis with a few caveats.
In discussing the migration crisis, Soros said: “She took a bold initiative to change the attitude of the public. Unfortunately, the plan was not properly prepared. The crisis is far from resolved and her leadership position—not only in Europe but also in Germany and even in her own party—is under attack.”
In answering a followup question about Merkel, Soros highlighted his fears over the future of the EU: “There is plenty to be nervous about. As she correctly predicted, the EU is on the verge of collapse. The Greek crisis taught the European authorities the art of muddling through one crisis after another. This practice is popularly known as kicking the can down the road, although it would be more accurate to describe it as kicking a ball uphill so that it keeps rolling back down. The EU now is confronted with not one but five or six crises at the same time.”
Soros also noted that “Merkel correctly foresaw the potential of the migration crisis to destroy the European Union.” Unfortunately, he did not foresee how her policies would backfire and severely damage her credibility both inside and outside of Germany.
He continued to say that: ” What was a prediction has become the reality. The European Union badly needs fixing. This is a fact but it is not irreversible. And the people who can stop Merkel’s dire prediction from coming true are actually the German people. I think the Germans, under the leadership of Merkel, have achieved a position of hegemony…Now it’s time for Germans to decide: Do they want to accept the responsibilities and the liabilities involved in being the dominant power in Europe?”
On opposition to refugees in Eastern Europe
When asked why there is so much opposition to Muslim refugees in Eastern Europe, Soros did not beat around the bush: “Because the principles of an open society don’t have strong roots in that part of the world. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is promoting the principles of Hungarian and Christian identity. Combining national identity with religion is a powerful mix. And Orbán is not alone. The leader of the newly elected ruling party in Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is taking a similar approach. He is not as intelligent as Orbán, but he is a canny politician and he chose migration as the central issue of his campaign. Poland is one of the most ethnically and religiously homogeneous countries in Europe. A Muslim immigrant in Catholic Poland is the embodiment of the Other. Kaczynski was successful in painting him as the devil.”
On the evolution of the EU
In response to a question about the founding principles of the European Union, Soros offered an historical perspective: “I have always looked at the EU as the embodiment of the principles of the open society. A quarter of a century ago, when I first became involved in the region, you had a moribund Soviet Union and an emerging European Union. And interestingly, both were adventures in international governance. The Soviet Union tried to unite proletarians of the world, and the EU tried to develop a model of regional integration based on the principles of an open society.”
He went on to explain that: “The Soviet Union has been replaced by a resurgent Russia and the European Union has come to be dominated by the forces of nationalism. The open society that both Merkel and I believe in because of our personal histories, and that the reformers of the new Ukraine want to join because of their personal histories, does not really exist. The European Union was meant to be a voluntary association of equals but the euro crisis turned it into a relationship between debtors and creditors where the debtors have difficulties in meeting their obligations and the creditors set the conditions that the debtors have to meet. That relationship is neither voluntary nor equal. The migration crisis introduced other fissures. Therefore, the very survival of the EU is at risk.”