Marine Le Pen: EU robbed us of all liberties, we should fight to get them back
Elections to the European Parliament have brought groundbreaking changes in the structure of EU’s most powerful body: right wing parties along with Eurosceptics, an outsiders just a few years ago, have now taken the political scene. Front Nacional party in France gets the majority - signifying that people want change; the same with other nations. But what now? Is the European change of course inevitable? What will happen to the Union itself? Today, we meet again with our special guest, the leader of the Front Nacional party. Marine Le Pen is on Sophie&Co today.
Sophie Shevardnadze:Last time we talked you predicted in the EU elections you’d become the number one party in France - and here we are. What’s the very first thing you want to do?
Marine Le Pen: The first thing that I will do is constitute a group in the European parliament to be able to prevent any new advances towards European federalism, which I consider to be profoundly anti-democratic. I believe that it goes against the sovereignty of the people and the economic, social, and international interests of France. So, along with our allies, we will now be able to provide a new voice, different from the one which dominates in the European union.
SS:When you look at the bigger picture, the eurosceptics are in the minority in the chamber and they aren’t even forming a bloc yet, there was no “global victory”. So why all this talk of a political earthquake?
MP: Believe me, we saw the faces of the people here in Brussels who saw us come pouring in, I think they believe that our presence will decidedly change the appearance of the European parliament and, evidently, of the debates that will take place in the parliament.
SS:How big is the problem of these “eurocommissioners” you want to get rid of? Has the sovereignty issue gotten so serious?
MP: Sovereignty is the foundation of democracy. Without sovereignty, there is no democracy, because having the freedom to cast a ballot in a ballot box is one thing, but if the people you elected with your ballot have no power because the actual power was transferred to a supranational body, then we are no longer in a democratic process. And this is exactly what we are currently going through. I think it was in 1957, in the National Assembly, Mendès France said that there are two ways to establish totalitarianism – either all of the powers are united together, or we transfer all the power to a supranational body. Well, that's exactly what they did by building the European Union – they transferred the sovereignty of the people to a supranational body that is not elected, that has no legitimacy and that imposes its will on the people. This is true for our territorial sovereignty – we are no longer in control of our immigration policy, since with Schengen all of our borders are open; this is true for our monetary sovereignty, since we are no longer in control of our currency; our budgetary sovereignty – it has just been transferred to the European Union, but also our legislative sovereignty, since currently 80% of the laws which are voted in the French National Assembly are actually a transcription of European directives. Well, I consider that France is a free country and that it should stay that way. And since we were robbed of all of our liberties, we should fight to get them back from the hands of those that stole them without our knowledge and against our will.
SS: A little while back there was talk about the new rising superpower - the European Union. These elections showed that the bloc is far from being a universally approved, superstate. Will Europe never unite now?
MP: Europe is not at stake; it is the European Union that is at stake. Europe exists, and it consists of nations whose wealth lies in their uniqueness, their sovereignty, their freedom, their democracy. So, I am for a Europe of nations – I wish that tomorrow we can constitute a Europe that could expand, but to countries that have preserved their sovereignty and that would work together on cooperative projects. This is what works, and this is what I want to implement, but in order to do this, we have to deconstruct this European Union.
SS:I had a member of An Alternative for Germany group here the other day - he wants to divide the Eurozone into North and South. Do you think this is a solution?
MP: No, I think that this is utopian. I think that we are trying to stick plasters on a structure that was faulty from the beginning. As far as the Euro, since it is really about the Euro, they want to make a Northern Euro-zone and a Southern Euro-zone. But, in this case, what is the advantage for Southern countries to continue to have the euro imposed on them? It would be better if they re-establish their national currency, and adapt the level of their national currency to their economy to boost growth, employment, and exports. Now, if Germany wants to keep a Euro-mark zone around their territory- that is their responsibility. If they see their interests there, they are free to do it. But we have no interest in integrating a 'sub-Euro' structure.
SS:You’ve said you want to defend French interests in the EU against Germany - what are those French interests that German policy is infringing upon?
MP: Let things be clear- I am not a Germanophobe. This wouldn't make any sense. I cannot be mad at Germany for defending its interests. I simply find that their interests are divergent from ours. It is that simple. I criticize the French leaders for not defending France's interests and for defending Germany's interests. For example, in the case of the Euro – we can see that the Euro was created for and by Germany. The Euro is custom tailored, but in a way that fits only Germany and not any other country of the European Union. I want something tailored for me, and for this I want a national currency. Especially since currency is a part of sovereignty. There: one currency, one country. This is the way that 95% of the countries in the world function, by the way. If tomorrow we go back to our national currencies, German marks would be overvalued compared with the Euro. Our new francs would be devalued compared with the Euro. We would therefore benefit, and Germany would be at a loss. Currently, Germany is profiting from the Euro, since they have a currency which is structurally devalued, which gives them a considerable competitive advantage. So, this European Union has fallen under the domination of Germany since Germany has managed to impose its views on all of the other countries, and we end up martyrs. From the point of view of the economy, of employment, of society, we have suffered a considerable loss in the last few years, and I will not continue to accept the suffering of the French people to placate Madame Merkel.
SS:Obviously you are not a big fan of the austerity policies that are in you view ruining Europe. But what else needs to be done to combat the debt crises?
MP: Surely not to do this, in any case. Because the austerity policies that have been implemented have shown not only their injustice but their futility, their inefficiency. The laboratory of these austerity policies is Greece. Just look at Greece : we sent the Greeks back to the Middle Ages, their youth unemployment rate is at 60%, 30% for the rest of the workforce, a drop in unemployment compensation, a drop in salaries, a drop in civil servant bonuses. They no longer have access to appropriate health care, suicide rates have doubled, and there's been a 50% increase in the infant mortality rate.. Is this progress? Is this what we were promised? This is a disgrace, it is scandalous! And moreover, it doesn't reduce deficit or debt. Greece's deficit and its debts are still increasing. This is why I say that the austerity policies are both inefficient in attaining their objectives, which is reducing deficit, but they are also profoundly unjust and almost inhumane when we look at the fact that in some hospitals in Greece, when women come to give birth, they given their baby only in exchange for a bill to pay for their delivery.
SS: Who would you rather see as head of the European Commission?
MP: I completely don't care, they are all interchangeable. This is a legend for yuppies and for Europhiles. We tell them: “Look, Juncker!” etc., while in reality they are all the same, completely the same! The president of the commission is the warden of the prison, that's it. But he is there to enforce the application of the rules. So whoever the warden is, he will apply the rules inside the prison. This is exactly what the head of the commission does. What counts is who will best apply the ultra-liberal policy, the transfer of sovereignty, the expansions they want to impose on various European populations, the signature of the Trans-Atlantic treaty with the United States, which we formally contest and which we will fight tooth and nail.
SS:On events in Ukraine - you’ve called the EU an “antidemocratic monster”, which has made things worse with its offers of partnership to Kiev. How exactly?
MP: Listen, obviously when the European Union made this partnership proposal to Ukraine, this basically meant a rupture of their relationship with Russia, it was a kind of blackmail that could only fuel the divisions of Ukraine, since we know that within the country, there are citizens in the East which look towards Russia and some in the West which look towards the European Union. We were well aware of this. And fuelling these divisions was obviously putting in place conditions for a danger of civil war. So the European Union started the initial fire and since then has only aggravated the situation via threats, blackmail and sanctions, which we can clearly see do not contribute to bringing everyone to the table to find a peaceful and reasonable resolution to this conflict.
SS:You’ve said the EU is responsible for the situation in Ukraine - did it ever know what it was getting into?
MP: By definition, it is not up to me to defend the competency of these bodies. To not know this would be tragic – such geopolitical ignorance seems astounding to me. Nevertheless, the result is there – the European Union did not play the role that it could have played, and it contributed to aggravating the situation. What is really a shame is that countries like France no longer have a diplomatic voice – because here is a conflict in which France, if it had kept a strong political voice, a balancing voice like the one I want it to recover, it could totally manage to overcome these difficulties. The diplomacy of the European Union is a catastrophe, and not only in Ukraine - each time the European Union participates on the global stage, it is usually either to create a problem or to aggravate it.
SS: Is imposing sanctions on Russia a sign that the EU’s foreign policy is subordinated to the U.S.? How far will the EU go with those?
MP: I don't know, maybe eventually the European Union will have to face reality and come to the conclusion that it is not to its advantage to bend to America's will. In any case, that is what I hope, because these sanctions have contributed to strengthening everyone's opposing positions, which makes no sense. We were completely aware of the fact that Russia, faced with these sanctions, wouldn't say: “Oh, well if it's going to be like that, no problem, do what you want”. That doesn't make any sense. The sanctions that were imposed, including those imposed on Russian deputies and even the president of the Duma, which are even more problematic, are a rupture in historical traditions on a diplomatic level. Generally, we do not sanction deputies because they are the expression of the people. So I am under the impression that there are no more rules, except maybe the ones imposed by the United States, which once again defend their own interests, but their interests are not ours.
SS:Can Ukraine ever become an EU member? Do you think it should?
MP: Obviously not, obviously not! Once again – here, when the European Union promised to let Ukraine become part of it, it clearly contributed to the exacerbation of tensions within Ukraine. Ukraine will not become part of the European Union. We won't tell tales – Ukraine absolutely doesn't have the economic level to become part of the EU. And, once again, it is a long way down the list. I am opposed to any new expansion, so I say this with no judgement whatsoever. I feel friendship towards the Ukrainians, so I wouldn't invite my friends to the table of nightmares. I want to leave the European Union, so I can't invite them to join.
SS: The G7 condemned Russia for the situation in Ukraine, vowed more sanctions…Why are Western leaders calling on Russia and President Putin to end the violence, and not the government in Kiev, the newly-elected president they’ve been meeting with?
MP: That's a good question. Because we are at the culmination of a Cold War that has been fought against Russia by the United States, to which the European capitals have completely submitted on an international level. It's as simple as that, and a shame as well. And I would like to seize this opportunity to express my compassion and my sadness and my disgust to see these civil victims in the East of Ukraine, who are dying surrounded by the general indifference of the European political world and media. It is a real scandal which is happening on our doorstep, and you are right to say that from the moment Ukraine has a legitimate government, it is the government which must take responsibility. But for this, we would need to demand that the Ukrainian government dismantle and disarm the reigning militia, which would most likely embarrass a number of people.
SS:The elections in Ukraine were quick to be accepted by the major powers in the West - despite the civil war that’s going on in the country and the fact that there was no vote in the country’s rebellious East. At the same time, the elections in Syria, were branded illegitimate even before they were held. Why?
MP: Yes, but this has been happening for years! I mean, such and such decides who is on the good side and who is on the bad side. And this can change at any moment. The good guys of today will be the bad guys of tomorrow, and maybe the bad guys of today will become good tomorrow, if Washington decides that it is to their advantage to make them good. It is a shame, since there is a substantial amount of mistakes that have been made at an international level under Washington's influence, especially in Syria. We were the only ones among the French political parties to oppose intervention in Syria, the first and only ones who, from the beginning, said that we were arming Islamic fundamentalists, who would, if they did win, implement a reign of terror like they did in Libya. This was, once again, because of us. We helped them come to power. This is the American method, the international American method: they defend their interests, or they think that they are defending them, since sometimes they make serious mistakes. What is terrible is that European countries no longer have a say in things. There are no more sovereign nations in Europe that can be the voice of reason for peaceful settlement of conflicts, the voice of balance between different interests of different nations.
SS: Obama said the security of America’s European allies is sacrosanct, promising to boost U.S. military deployments and exercises around Europe. Does Europe need this kind of support?
MP: To defend ourselves against whom? [...] To defend ourselves against whom? Well, you know that we are for leaving NATO, for France leaving NATO, we have a Gaullian vision of what international politics must be like, we are for developing our relations with Russia, without breaking ties with the United States. We believe that France must maintain its relations with all of the world's great nations, and we do not want to be imposed with a way of seeing things by anybody. We aspire to have the freedom to determine the quality and the level of our international relations. But... to defend ourselves against whom? When we asked this question to a French politician, his answer was “China”. It almost makes you laugh. We can clearly see that, as a matter of fact, this is an opportunity for the United States to carry out military integration, and maybe tomorrow, economic integration, to extend the scope of its influence. The free-trade agreement that the United States want to sign at any price is really just another way to tie the European Union, in a quasi-definitive way, to the United States. This is, once again, a loss of independence, not to mention the catastrophic consequences that this free-trade agreement would have for us in terms of agriculture, industry, defence, etc. So this is much more a geopolitical treaty than a purely commercial or economic treaty.
SS:After your success - what now? Running for President in 2017?
MP: Listen, if the followers of my movement put their trust in me, since we have an upcoming congress in November, where I will run to be re-elected as the head of the Front National. If I am re-elected as the head of the FN, then I will obviously be a candidate for the future presidential elections, which may take place earlier than we expected, either the presidential or the legislative elections, given the extremely low level of support for the President of the Republic, François Hollande.
SS: So you believe elections may take place earlier than scheduled?
MP: That is what François Hollande's friends say, who have raised the question to figure out how they can hold on for another three years while sustaining such heavy losses in all of the elections organised in the meantime, and having just a 16% popularity rating among the French population. I strongly believe in an early dissolution of the National Assembly. If the results of this early legislative election give the same results as the European election, where the political party of the President of the Republic, which has all the power, the State, the National Assembly, the Senate, the regions, thousands of municipalities, gathered less than 14% of voices, then I don't see how the President of the Republic can continue like this. In any case, the question arises.