Commentary Europe

The new Central European identity

Amidst the relativity of the so-called European values, Central Europe has forged a true regional identity for itself, Magyar Nemzet columnist Tamás Fricz writes.

With the approaching European elections, it is a legitimate question whether any Central European cooperation and that of the Visegrád Four can be a long-term thing. As with many other regional issues, we must start by looking at the region’s history.

From a geopolitical perspective Central Europe has always been a fragmented region (the only integratory intent of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy failed miserably). As a result, the region was a permanent battleground of the forces from the East and West.

Ethnic and national divisions only made things worse – both in Central Europe and in the states of Yugoslavia. For the above reasons, these countries never managed to forge lasting political and military alliances, seeking temporary favors with their major powers.

After World War II Central and Eastern Europe did have a semblance of stability under Soviet rule, but this kind of alliance was based on anything but freedom and democracy.

It is quite understandable that these countries had very much been looking forward to belonging to the European Union and be equal partners, instead of being looked down upon. But after a short time, disappointment followed: what they got instead was a second-class treatment from the “civilized” part of Europe who wanted to teach them the proper use of silverware.

Western Europe continues to call us Eastern Europeans – or East-Central Europeans at best – considering the region still lacks in matters of economy, culture and of habits. But our Central European identity is very real: it shows that we have always been part of Western Europe and have historical links to the East and the Balkans.

This cooperation is a rare value in an increasingly divided European Union and a Western Europe in a severe crisis.

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