Europe is divided into the leftist West and right-wing East

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The fact that the Eastern European nations are largely on the same wavelength offers a rare historic opportunity to the region to establish a strong Central Europe, which is also indispensable for a strong Europe, Jan Mainka, editor-in-chief of the German-language Budapester Zeitung writes in his opinion piece in conservative daily Magyar Hírlap.

There is a new dividing line across Europe that stretches along the former Iron Curtain, again separating two different thought models. It is as if the fall of communism has brought about a reversal in polarity, with left-wing thinking once again dominant — just this time not in the East. Instead, now it is the West’s turn. 

Although somewhat tempered by liberalism, this thinking perpetuates the same world view that has caused so much damage to the East.

While Western countries are — even if only in small doses — embracing ideas that have destroyed the East while those who were already destroyed are still relying on the ideas and values that once made the West strong. The West remains so strong that it has still managed to assimilate all sorts of left-wing social experiments without major issue. It seems that affluence has provided a certain degree of stability for the West, allowing its people and nations to distance themselves from reality and embrace pseudo issues.

The East, however, is a long way from the dangers presented by affluence. If these countries want to succeed, they must remain with both feet firmly planted on the ground. A sense of reality is crucial for them.

This common framework is both the basis for the gains of conservative forces in the former Eastern bloc and the source of better understanding among them than is the case between Western countries. The recent Visegrad Four meetings and the Europe Uncensored conference were very positive and are the type of events that renew hope time and again for a strong and united Central Europe.

History has shown that the nations in this part of the continent could best develop when they cooperated and were not set against each other by outside forces. In the past, the Hungarian Kingdom and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy were such integrative forces. Nowadays, the Visegrád group and the states of the former Yugoslavia can play the same role, especially when they work together to prevent countries like France and Great Britain from interfering.

The United States, Russia and China do not yet pose a direct danger to Central European integration either. Germany, which in a geopolitical sense is part of Central Europe, is currently more focused on the German-French axis than aiming to regain its centuries-long leading role in Europe.

This strategy, however, seems rather short-sighted in a post-Brexit Europe. Germany should accept the extended hand of its Eastern partners. Despite past humiliations from Germany, the leaders of these countries are wise enough not to threaten Germany’s participation in a potential Central European cooperation.

This is so even when Hungary is facing attacks that would be inconceivable without at least the tacit approval of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Displaying an excellent strategic sense, Hungary is waiting patiently to respond.

The fact is that there is no strong Europe without a strong Central Europe.

It is also a certainty that Central European countries have to be masters of their own destinies if they want to become players instead of being the ball again. The fact that currently many leaders of the region’s countries are on the same political wavelength provides a huge and perhaps fleeting opportunity. They must use it resolutely.

Title image: The Visegrád Castle, location of the 1335 meeting of three kings. The first Congress of Visegrád was a 1335 summit in Visegrád in which Kings John I of Bohemia, Charles I of Hungary and Casimir III of Poland formed an anti-Habsburg alliance. The three leaders agreed to create new commercial routes to bypass the staple port Vienna and obtain easier access to other European markets.

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