Interview: SEVIM DAGDELEN, MP for the German Left Party (Die Linke)
Greater Albanian nationalism is flourishing on this soil, which is being exploited by NATO to discipline Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and even Greece. I recently criticised the KLA, and subsequently received not only sexist, racist and fascist letters from Greater Albanian nationalists, but even death threats. Furthermore, because I criticised the KLA I was defamed as a Serbian nationalist. It’s ridiculous, but it’s part of the culture of intimidation that Europe simply chooses to ignore. Neither NATO intervention nor Greater Serbian or Greater Albanian nationalism are going to solve a single problem in the region.
Sevim Dağdelen, member of the Parliament from the German leftist party Die Linke (The Left) attracted significant attention of our public and media by her recent report in German Parliament. From the speaker’s platform in the Bundestag, during the session in which was being decided about a demand that German contingent of KFOR be granted 45 million euros for the next year, she presented harsh criticisms on account of German military presence in Kosovo and its support to the Government of Kosovo. This member of the Parliament, of Turkish origin, who considers the recognition of Kosovo’s independence open violation of the International Law, declared that the Government of Kosovo consists of members of terrorist KLA (UÇK), because of whose terror a hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Roma people and other minorities were forced to leave Kosovo, and which wants to expand its terrorist acts to the neighboring countries, highlighting the recent terrorist attack in Macedonia.
You belong to the single political party in German Parliament that opposed NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. What is your stand regarding similar military interventions in other parts of the world?
NATO and the Bundeswehr have been in Kosovo for 16 years now. What do we have to show for it? Kosovo is the poorhouse of Europe; thousands of Kosovars are fleeing corruption and lack of opportunity. Minority groups such as the Roma are being persecuted. A culture of impunity exists with regard to the crimes of the KLA. Kosovo has the highest proportion of Islamic terrorists in Europe relative to its population size. I wouldn’t exactly call that a success story. Greater Albanian nationalism is flourishing on this soil, which is being exploited by NATO to discipline Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and even Greece. I recently criticised the KLA, and subsequently received not only sexist, racist and fascist letters from Greater Albanian nationalists, but even death threats. Furthermore, because I criticised the KLA I was defamed as a Serbian nationalist. It’s ridiculous, but it’s part of the culture of intimidation that Europe simply chooses to ignore. Neither NATO intervention nor Greater Serbian or Greater Albanian nationalism are going to solve a single problem in the region.
Whether admission of Balkan countries to European Union will result in more permanent peace in this region? You publicly opposed the European Union getting the Nobel Peace Prize, isn’t that right?
The EU is hardly a role model, especially when its fatal policy of sealing off borders costs thousands of people trying to cross the Mediterranean their lives. We need to rebuild the EU around social, democratic and peaceful values. Currently, the EU is largely about making the rich richer and increasing the number of people living in poverty. Furthermore, in the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU violates international law and fosters unrest by pursuing a regime change policy, as it did most recently in Ukraine, for example.
What is your view on the current EU policy towards immigrants and Hungarian plan to raise a 4 meters fence on its border with Serbia?
Hungary’s conduct is shameful. But it isn’t all that different to the fatal policy of sealing off borders pursued by the EU. We need a culture of acceptance towards EU refugees. No one leaves their home country voluntarily. The borders must be opened to these people.
What do you think about Serbia’s decision not to declare sanctions on Russia? How that reflects on Serbian Government’s intention for Serbia to become a member of the European Union?
The EU, and also the German Federal Government, will not only demand that Serbia recognises Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, but also that it cuts its good ties with Russia. I fear this will be the price Serbia will have to pay to join the EU, even though it is not explicitly stated in the Copenhagen criteria. However, as a result of Greece’s “No”vote in the referendum, I am optimistic that other European nations will also now be unwilling to give up their democratic sovereignty. In Serbia’s case – if joining the EU means contractually acknowledging the infringements of international law and the EU’s sanctions and escalation policies against Russia – this would mean the people would need to consider whether the price is too high. In any case, wars of aggression and sanctions policies against Russia are toxic for peace in Europe.
What is your opinion on the EU policy towards Ukraine, especially regarding the Euromaidan movement and conflict between pro-EU and pro-Russian forces?
The EU supported the regime change in Ukraine in 2014. Alarmingly, it downplayed the significance of the fascists who then formed part of the new government in Kiev. Now, the EU is supporting President Poroshenko’s wartime government by providing generous financial aid, even though it is unclear whether or not it wants to comply with the Minsk Protocol. In addition, fascist militias such as the Azov Battalion are fighting on the side of the Ukrainian government without being criticised by EU representatives. That is a historical and political breach of taboo with serious consequences in terms of encouraging fascist forces in the EU. Apparently, our hatred of Russia has grown so much that we do not even shy away from collaborating with fascists. The positive aspect of Maidan – its anti-oligarchic stance – has disappeared entirely. In Ukraine, oligarchs like Poroshenko are now letting people die in order to enrich themselves.
What is your stand on Greek referendum? And what is your party’s proposal for getting out of the crisis?
Greece’s “No” vote was a victory for democracy in Europe.The Left Party stands in solidarity with the Greek people and their rejection of the blackmailing techniques employed by the Troika of the European Commission, the IMF and the ECB.What we need to see now is a debt haircut and an end to the austerity policy. Further packages of spending cuts will only lead to increased poverty.
What is your opinion on the future of left-wing political parties in Europe and their abilities to radically change the European Union?
If the EU does not change radically, in a social, peaceful and democratic way, it won’t survive much longer. The political left has a core mission: to give an answer to the new social question. This means a struggle against the privatisation of public services, the socialisation of key industries and a radical redistribution from the top down. In order to prevent the rich from becoming more and more privileged, we need a social project of “de-oligarchisation”. That is particularly important for Germany: a country where 60% of all DAX-listed corporations are run by oligarchs and which, with 123 billionaires, now ranks third worldwide on the world’s billionaire list. It would also be an effective antidote for the growing trends of racism and nationalism. Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the brutal war crimes committed in Srebrenica. I hope that Serbian society will find the strength to bring to justice, without exception, the perpetrators involved in the killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims. The widespread impunity for those who committed atrocities on the Serbs in the civil war must not serve as an example: there must be no future for nationalism and misanthropy.
What is your stand on Turkish policy towards the Syrian crisis and the Kurds?
The AKP regime must be condemned for supplying weapons to Islamic holy warriors in Syria, thereby supporting, together with Saudi Arabia, militia that are massacring Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Alawites, Armenians, Druze and Kurds. Turkey’s plans for incursion into Syria are solely aimed at the Kurds in the northern part of the country who are defending themselves against the IS. The Left Party calls for an end to Chancellor Merkel’s chumminess with Turkish autocrat Erdoğan, for the Bundeswehr to pull out of Turkey and for arms exports to cease. We also do not want any further chapters to open in EU accession negotiations with Turkey.
You are the first member of the Parliament who visited Julian Assange after he found asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy. What do you think about the position he is currently in?
Julian Assange has now been living under asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy for three years. Without him, the WikiLeaks revelations would never have come to light, including the war crimes committed by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. He opened our eyes to the dirty, bloody nature of these wars, and to just how much our governments have let us down in the past and how much they continue to do so. Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning have written history; they are peace- and freedom-loving people, and we are all indebted to them for what they have done. And even Edward Snowden’s act of courage – blowing the whistle on the NSA’s surveillance practices – is difficult to imagine in a world without Julian Assange. That’s why Assange is facing political persecution by the US. Anyone who is genuinely interested in protecting fundamental rights should also be campaigning to ensure that Julian Assange can leave the embassy in London without having to be extradited to the US. Rather than imprisonment and asylum in an embassy, he should be given the Nobel Peace Prize. He deserves it more than others.
Did the NSA spying on European and German politicians change anything in the relations between the USA, Germany and the EU?
Sadly it didn’t. Even though the NSA has infringed on the fundamental rights of German citizens a million times over, and continues to do so, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) still keep faith with the US administration. This shows that the grand coalition in Berlin is not prepared to defend Germany’s Basic Law. It is as if Germany were a vassal state to the US.
Interview is originally published in Serbian Daily Politika, 12. July 2015.