Editor’s note: We met with Steve Bannon in Prague and Budapest at the end of May 2018 and spoke to him twice. He requested that, in order to publish his quotes in the print version of DIE ZEIT, we would publish both interviews in its entirety on our website. We agreed. This is the un-edited transcript of the two talks we had with Mr. Bannon.
Lesen Sie hier das ungekürzte Transkript der beiden Gespräche auf Deutsch.
DIE ZEIT: Mr. Bannon, what are you actually doing here in Europe?
Steve Bannon: I'm just here… People invited me over here to talk. I'm just here to study. As I said, the populist nationalist movement is probably a year more advanced in Europe than it is in the United States. I gave a talk in the Chezc Republic, now I met a bunch of people here in Hungary, I'm here for the first time, meet some folks. In the next couple of days I'm going down to Rome. I recommended to Salvini and Amando Siri early on really try to work and really try to put a unitary government together. Just some free advice. So I'm here in Europe to learn. Kinda of going on a speaking tour.
ZEIT: You had some setbacks in the US with your dismissal from the white house and stepping down as executive chair of Breitbart. Is Europe your new playing field now?
Bannon: No, I'm still very active in the U.S. I have a C4 that's doing a lot of messaging, getting ready for the 2018 midterms. We'll be working with a lot of, you know, house candidates, et cetera, later on. Cause this election in 2018 is really another presidential election. It's all about the impeachment of Trump, so the intensity is quite tense. So no. The US is still my... But I am gonna spend some more time in Europe, it's a real opportunity for me to learn and hopefully apply some of this knowledge back in the United States.
ZEIT: You talked to people from the SVP, the Swiss party, the Front National, Fidesz. What do those parties have in common?
Bannon: The Chinese called their Communism socialism with Chinese characteristics. I think this populist nationalist movement has different characteristics in each area, whether it's in Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, here in Hungary, or in Italy, or in Germany. I think each one is different. They all have their commonalities, they are all nationalist right? They belief in the nation state. They believe in the nation state, as Le Pen called it a jewel to be polished, not an obstacle to be overcome.
ZEIT: They are all anti-immigrant, too.
Bannon: I don't know if they are anti-immigrant. I think what's happened I would not call immigration. What's happened because of Merkel incompetence and her arrogance, that was just a flood of migrants. That's not immigration policy. Look at Italy. Poor Italy tried to play along with the EU rules and everybody closed their borders and said: hey you just gotta deal 750.000 people that swam across and came in boats. That's not being anti-immigrant. I don't think there's a (inaudible) of hate in any of these people. What they want is their countries. They don't want a central authority in Bruxelles be able to come up with making up as they go along. And they certainly don't ever… The people in Hungary, the people in Hungary, the people in Switzerland, the people in France, they never voted for Angela Merkel just of her on volition allowing two million Syrian refugees.
None of whom did you have chain of title. You don't know anything about their background, anything about their documentation. So it's her arrogance and incompetence. Remember: It ain't Steve Bannon who started this, it's Angela Merkel with her arrogance and incompetence that started this.
ZEIT: You met with Alice Weidel and Beatrix von Storch in Zurich. What's your impression of the AfD?
Bannon: I think the AfD is really... I think particularly the young leaders like Beatrix Storch or Alice Weidel are tremendous. They are tremendous personalities. They are very dynamic. I think the party is gonna have some issues that they gotta work through over time. But I'm sure they'll work through them. But I think if Germany has young leaders like that and people that I think represent them so well, that seem to be so articulate, that smart, the party is gonna be in pretty good shape. So I look forward to looking to Germany. Maybe not on this trip, maybe not this trip, maybe on the next trip. Cause I've never been to Germany, I've never been to Hungary, I've never been to the Checz Republic. It's the first time I get to go to these places. I look forward to going to Germany next trip.
ZEIT: In France you said that people should wear the label "racist"…
Bannon: Hang on a second. I want this in your story.
ZEIT: We'll print it all.
Bannon: Read out the quote.
ZEIT: You want me to read the whole quote?
Bannon: No. The point is, that quote doesn't make sense in that case.
ZEIT: I can read out the whole quote, I got it right here.
Bannon: Cause I blew up the BBC last night.
ZEIT: "It's the biggest reason the globalists have no answer to racism..."
Bannon: Thank you!
ZEIT: "...Let them call you racist, let them call you xenophobes, let them call you nativists, wear it as a badge of honor"
Bannon: That's not the whole quote!
ZEIT: "Because every day we get stronger and they get weaker."
Bannon: That's not the whole quote. I'm gonna tell you what the real quote was. I shouldn't have to tell you, because you're the one writing this article. But if you watch the BBC tonight, I blew up the BBC, cause she tried to jump me with that. What I said is I made the case for what President Trump has done, this is the thing where I said that Martin Luther King would be proud. His policies of economic nationalism don't care what your race is, what you're religion is, what your ethnicity is, what your gender is, what your sexual preference is. All it cares about is that you're a citizen. And President Trump policies, that's the quote. Just go back and play it. This is what I laid up to. You go and look at it: We have the lowest black unemployment in the history of America. And we have the lowest hispanic unemployment in 25 years. And wages are rising from working class blacks and hispanics because unlimited illegal immigration is there to suppress the wages of the black and the hispanic working class. And since they have now answer, than I go into that.
If they call you a racist, it's just like I said here to today, it's just like identity politics, if they're not prepared to argue on base of the facts, wear it as a badge of honor.