On the 25th of April, 2017, our Association organized a very special panel discussion at Corvinus University of Budapest, and the topic was the presentation of the achieved results, the past and future, and the recent structure and function of the Visegrad Group, which were connected by our lecturers to the main challenges of the European Union and to the current problems and issues in international politics.
In order to discuss these questions we had invited some experts, thus we could greet three ambassadors accredited to Hungary among our guest lecturers: Rastislav Kacer represented the Slovak, Jerzy Snopek represented the Polish, and Juraj Chmiel represented the Czech opinion, while also Szabolcs Takács, the Hungarian Secretary of European Union affairs also took part in the program. All of them gave a very complex and detailed presentation to the guests. During the event, there were many topics related to different policies and areas, which were discussed in 15-minute terms. After the panel discussion, the audience also had an opportunity to ask some questions from the ambassadors.
Firstly, the lecturers had to summarize and rate the work and achievements of the Visegrad countries, and the experts themselves, as a matter of fact, mentioned very different aspects and perspectives: they spoke about the history of the Cooperation, about the circumstances and the background of the formation, about the identity-making effects of the organization, about the common historical experiences, and about the similar cultural, economic and social characteristics of the Visegrad countries, which had a great role in connecting the member states.
An idea about establishing different regional organisations within the Visegrad Group has also occurred, in order to further strengthen and stabilise the integration, since the V4 countries define the economic and fiscal policies of the Central-European region. The lecturers have also talked about the importance of being open-minded towards the different new ideas, and the positive attitude connected with the respect of pluralism is also a necessary requirement to harmonise the individual interests, whether we examine the Visegrad group or the EU.
The next question was about the short-term future of the region, and about the possible reforms of the cooperation, like changing the structure and the institutional system of the organisation. The experts talked about local and EU-related problems too and mentioned some alternatives to solve them. The majority of the lecturers had a quite similar opinion because they said that currently, it is not necessary to introduce more complex and serious reforms. The recent structure of the organisation is very flexible for all the member states of the Visegrad Cooperation.
The lecturers did not forget to speak about the non-European foreign relations of the V4, but they had an opinion that the members are responsible for their own region in the first place. The Polish delegate talked about the question of common values too, and he said that faith, mutual confidence, and the sense to make compromises are very important principles, but according to his experience, it is a huge problem that these values occur only in slogans rather than in practice. All of the experts had a consensus that some parts of the individual goals and interests must be sacrificed in order to realise the common priorities.
The final questions were about the possible changes of the security sector, the idea of creating a European Defence Community, and about what kind of scenarios could appear in connection with the recent problems of the EU. The dilemma of a multispeed Europe was mentioned through some examples like Schengen or the Eurozone, which behave as little integrations inside the Union. The general opinion about the EU was that it is a story of success, and it has an obvious role by holding the peace and stability in Europe. Of course, problems can sometimes occur, that is why it needs some changes, for example in the bureaucratic system. Other relevant and actual questions were discussed as well, like the possibility of a common European Army, the refugee crisis, the war in Eastern-Ukraine, the terrorism, the sanctions towards the Russian Federation and the relations of Eastern-Central-Europe to the West and to the East.
In the end of the discussion, the lecturers answered a few questions from the audience, which were connected to the diplomatic and economic relations of the Visegrad Group, and to the possible frictions and conflicts inside the organisation.
Taking everything into consideration, it is very important to have a general view of the challenges which the V4 must cope with in the future.