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Klaus on Shevarnadze's RT show

Viewers with common sense can distinguish the nuances

Czech ex-president Václav Klaus traveled to Moscow because Russian became another language in which his and his aide Weigl's recently penned book about the "Migration Period v2.0" (which has a removal van on the cover in Czech and some other languages which use the same word for migration and moving) so he used the opportunity to give an interview for SophieCo, an RT show.

Web page of the show and transcript, YouTube backup

In Fall 2015, he already talked to RT's Oksana Boyko at the Worlds Apart show. I think that both young women do their job very well but both have shown some kind of unfamiliarity with the intellectual discourse that Klaus and similar people represent.

Sophie Shevarnadze, the granddaughter of the well-known Soviet minister of foreign affairs Eduard Sh., is considered the hottest woman in Russia by many people. I think she's primarily very smart and her business-like short haircut emphasized that point and reduced the room for distractions. ;-)

I like to watch these interviews. At the same moment, I would say that it was in no way a love fest. (Oksana Boyko has arguably tried to behave in a more friendly, submissive way but Shevarnadze decided to behave as a tough, perhaps even hostile, professional.) Those who accuse Klaus and others of being puppets of Russia etc. could have noticed. I think that a sensitive and intelligent viewer must have detected dozens of clear places where Klaus and Shevarnadze weren't on the same frequency.

Before I get to those serious points, let me mention some trivialities. Klaus sometimes tells stories whose extra message seems to be how connected to the world's most famous people he is, how Obama said something special to Klaus, and so on. I am sometimes saying similar stories in which Klaus plays the role of Obama so I am connected to the world's most powerful people with a single intermediate step.

Klaus' English sounds very comprehensible and his thinking is clear and all of it is great, especially for a person who hasn't done languages in any professional way. But there are idiosyncrasies in his English, perhaps analogous to mine. When I was giving my first seminar in the U.S. – at Ohio State University in 1998 – my Slovak friend Zuzana S. who was a "natural English speaker" – perhaps just like Sophie Shevarnadze is – was listening to my talk and wrote a list of some 100 words that I had to pronounce differently etc. (Sophie Shevarnadze is fluent in Georgian, Russian, English, and French and conversant in Italian; her pronunciation of Klaus' Czech name was also right which is also rare.)

If I were a close adviser of Klaus', I would probably try to insist on the same treatment and fixes. He uses the word "rational" very often so I would propose alternatives (similarly with "Again, ..."). Moreover, the first "a" in "rational" should be pronounced as a long one. There are numerous similar examples ("arrogance", not "arrogancy"; "th" not "dz"; "premature" is pronounced "prýməČŮŮr", NOT "PRÝmejčr"; what is changed by migration is "demographics", not "demography" – the latter is the science on the former; "awakening", not "awaning"; "curtain" is pronounced closer to "krr-ten", not "kertýn") but there's one omnipresent word that Klaus pronounces completely incorrectly: the euro. It's the "oiro". He may be doing it deliberately. The euro is pronounced "oiro" in German and Klaus speaks German very well. But in English, the "euro" is pronounced as a "jůro", like if you scream at the first cosmonaut, "Jůro Gagarine".

But let's return to the serious matters.

RT is owned by the Kremlin and it's pretty much impressive that the granddaughter of that absolutely Soviet-Georgian official ended up being this unbelievably Western and Cosmopolitan. But it's not necessarily just positive. I think that at the end, Sophie Shevarnadze is actually fairly close to the "consensus of the Western politically correct mainstream media". She's more tolerant and capable of listening but I think that at the end, her beliefs aren't that different.

In the interview, one could hear that the two people had very different opinions what is the "normal view" about lots of political questions. Shevarnadze basically assumed that every European, including Klaus, must be thinking about ways to make the EU stronger in some way. This is probably standard both in Russia and America. Both Russians and Americans find it irresistible to think of Europe as another unified power similar to themselves.

Well, Klaus doesn't want to make the European Union stronger or more unified. In his view, Europe is intrinsically heterogeneous and this unification is therefore unnatural. If the EU could be abolished or dramatically reformatted, it would be good news. Shevarnadze apparently thinks that Europe should have the common currency, the unified Schengen zone, and even a common army. Klaus considers the Euro as well as the Schengen area to be mistakes – mistakes that began to pile up starting from the 1992 Maastricht treaty. And he thinks that the common European army is a silly idea and there's even not any significant demand which is why this idea hasn't moved forward much for decades.

And the usual disagreements showed up in the discussion of the migration, too. Shevarnadze used the word "refugees" for the people who are arriving from the Muslim world to Europe. She did so pretty much automatically – it looks like she has never questioned whether it was the right description. It even looks like she has never met anyone who would question the word. Well, Klaus was correcting her. They are "migrants", not "refugees". Almost all of them could stay in their homeland – especially because most of them come from countries that aren't experience wars right now – but they simply wanted a more prosperous life which is why they chose an optimal, wealthy, generous destination for their journey. In this sense, almost all of them are "economic migrants". After all, economic considerations have been the dominant reason of people's move from one country to another for quite some time.

There have been points in which they were close, too. I don't want to claim otherwise. But even when it came to topics where they probably "generally agreed", the degrees of beliefs differed. For example, the questions and answers indicated that Klaus considers the idea that "Russia has hacked the U.S. presidential election" to be more ludicrous than what Shevarnadze thinks. This view of Klaus isn't any ad hoc novelty. He's always believed that the nations should – and ultimately do – decide about their fate. In 1948, the Czechoslovak communist coup was mainly driven by our communists just like the 1989 Velvet Revolution was mostly driven by the non-communist, often ordinary Czechoslovak people. The U.S. may have intervened in the Middle East but the internal dynamics and conflicts were always more important and the same was true in Ukraine. So the idea that the "U.S. voters couldn't have been overwritten by some Russian remote controls" isn't new – it's really just another example of a rather universal wisdom how the world works according to Klaus (and me). The world mostly respects the laws of locality. ;-)

But my point is that the number of obvious differences between Klaus and Shevarnadze is so high that the people who automatically identify the Kremlin with the RT and all the journalists at RT and all the people who have ever been interviewed by RT etc. must be incredibly stupid. They must completely misunderstand or be completely unaware of a great majority of the political questions that are relevant today – because any pair of people whom they identify as parts of the uniform "Russian puppet show" differs in roughly 50% of these topics.

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