It is high time for Central Europe to become an important player on the Old Continent

 

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Europe is changing before our eyes. For the last few years we have been witnessing the rise of Russian neo-imperialism and emergence of a new German Europe. The EU is changing as well – in November a new voting system in the EU Council will be introduced, and the so-called “union method” will replace the “community method”. All these changes create a completely new environment for us, Central Europe. In addition, the USA, the traditional partner for many countries in our region, withdraws from Europe and moves its interests to the Far East (even the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will not change it all). The instability of Bosnia&Herzegovina, the rise of Turkey and the Islamic Revolution in the Middle East make our position even more complicated.

 

What #V4plus says? After 2004/2007 the new EU&NATO member states lost their interest in deep regional cooperation. Instead of creating a new strategy, we have chosen politics of little deals made in Berlin, Brussels, London, Moscow, Paris or Washington. It ensured our survival, but nothing more. The new shape of Europe makes it much harder. Finally, “Why die for Danzig?” Even when our elites do not understand each other?

 

Thus, we are deeply convinced that there is no alternative to the re-establishment of Central European Partnership. We are calling it Visegrad Plus for two reasons. First of all, it embraces not only the four Visegrad countries, but also Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. If we want our voice to be heard, we must act together as a united region of Central Europe. Secondly, the word “Plus” indicates that we want more cooperation and more positive initiatives, both political and economic.

 

The difference of positions on the crisis in Ukraine between all #V4plus states shows that there is a long way ahead. We need to start with ourselves – Visegrad Plus should become a platform for sharing knowledge about national interests and mutual fears. Moreover, we believe that people involved in the project will become a new elite that understands the need of cooperation.

 

Poland due to its size is predestinated to be the leading partner, primus inter pares, first among equals. Partner, but not a hegemon. The project is undertaken by the Jagiellonian Club, one of the biggest and oldest NGO in Poland, but since its beginning managed by representatives from all #V4plus countries.

 

This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Autumn of Nations. It is high time for Central Europe to become an important player on the Old Continent.

Image: Julian Nitzsche