Four prominent politicians from Poland, Czechia, Hungary, and Slovakia have joined forces to publish an article calling for the Visegrad Group to reaffirm Europe as a diverse union of independent states ready to enlarge and defend itself.
Former Slovak Prime Minister and current EU commissioner Jan Figiel; former Speaker of the Polish Parliament and current chair of its Foreign Affairs Committee Marek Kuchciński; the former Czech Prime Minister and current MEP, Alexandr Vondra; and Zsolt Nemeth, a Hungarian government minister and chair of the Hungarian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, published their remarks on the wPolityce.pl news portal, as well as in Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian media outlets on Thursday, the day that Ukraine and Moldova were approved as EU candidate countries at an EU summit in Brussels.
The group of politicians insisted that Europe remain united but must respect the diversity of nations. “We did so much in this region to ensure we have democracy, civil rights and economic freedom that we understand all too well how the war in Ukraine disrupts the process of European development. That is why, despite some differences between us, we all condemn Russian aggression and are actively providing humanitarian assistance to refugees on an unprecedented scale,” they wrote.
“Even though we are effectively frontline states, all of our citizens have remained calm, and our economies are coping with the crisis better than other parts of Europe. But the challenges ahead are daunting.
“While recognizing our weaknesses, we must become fully aware of our strengths. Not only with regard to the help offered to millions of refugees fleeing war in Ukraine but also when we compare our record with those of wealthier EU states during the migration crisis of 2015-16,” the letter reads.
The politicians claimed the war in Ukraine had reminded Europe about what unites its citizens, praising the conviction of sovereign and diverse countries to come together in solidarity with others to promote “Christian values, natural laws, human rights, democracy and freedom of speech” to create the optimal conditions for work and life for individuals, nations and societies.
“This is what has made us successful in this part of the world when compared with both East and West. The pace of our economic development is the fastest in the EU and one of the fastest in the world,” the group wrote.
The politicians expressed concern that the EU could emerge from the conflict in Ukraine significantly weakened, and called on the Visegrád Group to “take responsibility and provide leadership inside the EU” but do so “in the spirit of the equality and partnership our group is based on.”
“In this way, the EU can return to what its founding fathers envisaged, a pan-European body that is also a union of states,” they added.
“We cannot and should not ignore the vital role of NATO and the USA in assisting Ukraine,” the group wrote, further stating that “there is and can be no alternative to NATO.”
“It is high time for us to realistically and effectively learn (…) to ‘monetize’ the peaceful and responsible policy of Central European countries (not only V4),” they said, adding that “consensus and cooperation are within reach.”
“The alternative to our approach is the divide et impera (divide and rule) mentality knocking at our doors,” they concluded.