Monday, April 22, 2024
European Union

Visegrad Cooperation key to stopping EU federalization

The V4 summit in Poland, 2021 (Source: Krystian Maj / KPRM)

The heart of Europe is now beating in Central Europe, this is a great opportunity and a historic – European – responsibility” – says Mihály Rosonczy-Kovács, a foreign affairs director at the Hungarian think tank Nézőpont Intézet.

PIOTR WŁOCZYK: Is it possible to stop further federalization of the EU – turning the union into a superstate?

MIHÁLY ROSONCZY-KOVÁCS: The Treaties, which the member states have signed and ratified, clearly define the powers of the member states and the exclusive powers of the EU. This would close the matter: pactas sunt servanda, that is, the Treaties must be respected. They can only be changed unanimously. Hungary, by the way, is open to negotiation, that is, to EU reform that confirms the original intent of the founders, whereas the European left instead of open democratic debates between elected, legitimate bodies, tries to hack the legal system of the EU by trying to make slip national competences to Brussels unnoticed. Moreover, they are trying to make the interpretation of the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights not only legal, but also political. For this reason, it is no longer enough to fight these tendencies at the legal level, because the vassals of the globalist forces that are destroying European cooperation are taking the legal debates to the political level. They are also using their media advantage to present the views of the European left as the only European opinion. They can be countered first and foremost by creating a strong media base that ensures freedom of speech and on which political debates can be based. Hungary, for example, has succeeded in creating a situation in which the voices of sovereigntists and globalists are heard to a similar degree in public discourse. This should also be the task in Western Europe.

What can the V4 countries do about this?

Sometimes Western Europe seems to be in a state of fatigue. They seem to have lost motivation and faith that it is worth fighting for European dreams. That it’s worth living out its national identities and cultures with pride, that it’s worth working to ensure that the European economy doesn’t lose further ground, and that in cooperation with other civilizations it can even gain a better place for itself again globally than it does now. Motivation, freshness and European pride can now be found in Central Europe, of which V4 is the most important pillar. This is a region where governments are not content to respond to the challenges of recent years with imported solutions imposed from outside. The successes of Poland and Hungary show that this approach is good not only for preserving our identity, but also for maintaining strong economies.

Mihály Rosonczy-Kovács

The Western European right must fight and win their political battles on their own, but we in Central Europe can provide inspiration and a set of best-practices for them. It is from us that they can draw the conviction that it is possible to defend families, the European way of life, Christianity, freedom of speech and democracy. The heart of Europe is now beating in Central Europe, a great opportunity and a historic – European – responsibility.

How can we cause the Germans and the French listen to the voice of our part of Europe?

It should be noted that Germany is the V4’s most important economic partner (in 2021, foreign trade between the V4 and Germany was twice that between Germany and France and one and a half times that between Germany and China). However, one often gets the impression that, at least at the political level, the voice of the new communism that is gaining ground in parts of the United States is also spreading through Germany. In many cases, for example in the statements of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, some Germans try to impose ideologies imported from overseas on others with the same arrogant and lecturing attitude that has been the source of so many tragedies in the past. And at the same time, it is as if they are forgetting the elements of the great German spirit and culture to which our continent owes so much. Meanwhile, we see that the German government is not afraid to seek exceptions to Union rules when it comes to supporting its own economy. The combination of these two attitudes – ideological unification and protectionist economic policies – results in the emerging European superstate ultimately favoring the Germans.

Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the then chancellor-elect Olaf Scholz in Berlin, November 2021 (Source: KPRM – Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland)

It follows that political cooperation with the French is now more likely to yield results against federalism, which seeks to abolish nation-states. After Brexit, a stronger dialogue between the V4 and France is necessary to maintain the balance of power in Europe We see that the French people show a much greater willingness to defend their national identity than the German. The coming to power of Giorgia Meloni may also bring a genuine Italian voice into European politics. An Italian voice that combines the experience of Central and Western Europe.

The essence of sovereign thinking is that it is far better to debate, to reach a compromise after an honest confrontation of interests and arguments than to pretend unity by invoking false ideologies that hide the interests of great powers. The upcoming European elections and the process of dividing positions in the EU may strengthen the V4’s negotiating power, which could make Central Europe’s prospects more visible.

But perhaps the future of the EU is a division into two blocs – a more federally integrated West and a decentralized East with, among others, V4 countries? Is such a scenario realistic?

Regional cooperation is important in the EU, and V4 is a good example of this. At the same time, it is in our interest to maintain the unity of Europe. It is important to be able to pursue the EU’s original goals of focusing on economic benefits, representing true European values and interests. Let’s look at how the globalist disinformation machine, which is trying to tear apart Hungarian-Polish cooperation, is doing the same in other parts of Europe, such as the Franco-Italian debate on migrants, and the media coverage of that debate. No one outside Europe has any interest in making Europe strong. No one can stop Europe’s global decline for us. But this requires cooperation based on genuine European voices and mutual respect.

How do you assess Poland’s role in the V4? How much depends on Warsaw today? Can our country feel like an actual leader of this part of the EU?

There is no doubt that Poland should be the flagship of the V4. Given its size, Poland can really give weight to the format, while Budapest, which is the most involved in cooperation in Central Europe, can contribute a lot to the format with its political experience. The Hungarians not only don’t mind, they actually cheer for Poland to be on board and lead the V4. It would be good if the Poles had enough confidence in themselves and the region to believe that together, without any surveillance from Washington, Moscow, Brussels or Berlin, we can develop an economic and defense structure within NATO that will end the pull of the big powers always trying to rule Central Europe. With Polish leadership, we could arrive to a point where the region is neither commanded nor bypassed by anyone from outside. For this reason, it is important to show, for example, that the V4 is compatible with the goals of the Three Seas Initiative along with Ukraine, a format favored by the Poles. Provided, of course, that the Three Seas Initiative is not influenced by Washington, Moscow or Berlin, but is driven by the cooperation of thirteen countries. The V4 can also be an excellent preparatory platform for the Three Seas Initiative negotiations, since cooperation between four parties is much easier to coordinate than twelve plus one.

What does the way the EU institutions treat the V4 countries show us?

Recent years have shown that for the left in Brussels nothing is sacred: neither the Treaties nor the rules of the European Parliament. It seems that nothing can surprise us negatively anymore, after the rules for counting votes were changed the day before the Sargentini report, in which Hungary was condemned on the basis of one-sided leftist opinions. Please recall, too, how the Commission backed down last year under pressure from the European Parliament on the agreement with the Poles. It is important that both the Hungarian and Polish governments continue to be guided by mutual respect and trust in their negotiations with the Brussels bureaucrats. However, we should not be surprised if there are new cases of politically motivated sectioning of right-wing countries. All this is painful for EU citizens who cherish true European-ness, because it is the left in Brussels that is destroying the foundations of European democracy, solidarity and respect.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg during a plenary session in 2014 (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Diliff/GNU Free Documentation License)

Nevertheless, the attacks of the European left are already losing credibility among their own electorate. Those who want to teach Central European countries a lesson in democracy at the same time sell the democratic mandate received from European citizens for cash and put it at the service of foreign interests. The corruption scandal engulfing the European Parliament, in which a large part of globalist politicians may be implicated, is extremely disturbing.

What do you consider to be the V4’s greatest achievement, and what other phrases do the members of the Visegrad Group face?

Among the most important achievements of the V4 in recent years, we can mention joint action against illegal immigration, as well as blocking the nomination of Frans Timmermans as president of the European Commission. Together we can be much more articulate in defending the family and the physical and spiritual borders of Europe. The format also has great practical benefits at the “middle” level; for example, during the dynamic periods of Visegrad Cooperation, our diplomats are able to get more attention around the world by holding joint events, and it is easier to open doors when they knock together.

However, we still have great challenges ahead, which also means that V4 still has great, unexploited potential. The most important thing is that we stop just talking about economic opportunities in our markets, about developing north-south connections, and make key projects a priority. For how long have we been hearing that it is unacceptable that it is much more difficult to reach the capitals of the V4 countries than Vienna or Berlin? Moreover, in the reality created by the media even New York seems to be closer to any of us than we are to each other… As for specific solutions, it would be important, for example, to establish a V4 or Central European investment bank that will finance the much needed big infrastructural projects.

At the business level, it is still common for our four countries to compete with each other for large external investments, with less focus on exploiting each other’s markets. In particular, the huge and dynamic Polish market represents a major opportunity for the other three countries. Poland is currently Hungary’s seventh most important export partner and sixth most important import partner, so imagine what it could be like if the Via Carpatia were finally completed or if we could, for example, take a high-speed train from southern Poland to Budapest or Miskolc in an hour and a half. At the same time, the delayed Slovak section of Via Carpatia shows that Hungarian-Polish cooperation can only be truly effective if Slovakia is a beneficiary of it.

To what extent could the V4 countries’ different reactions to the war in Ukraine disrupt the format in the long run?

The strength of V4 cooperation has always been given by focusing on what unites rather than what divides its members. The challenges facing the V4 in relation to the war should be divided into two parts: the first is the perception of the ideas themselves for ending the war, and the second is how the media are covering are these differences, that are way less significant than generally presented… It should always be emphasized that the strategic goal of all four countries is the same: to minimize the threat from Russia, which requires a free, independent and democratic Ukraine. However, there is a difference as to how this can be achieved in a way that minimizes the negative effects on Ukraine, the region and the rest of Europe. Hungary’s position is that a cease-fire and negotiations are the solution, but this does not at all mean freezing the current fronts. Poland’s goals seem to go beyond supporting Ukraine and seem to be aimed at breaking Russia in the long run, which, given Poland’s history, is completely understandable. Hungarians believe – not least on the basis of the bitter experience of 1956 – that this is a dangerous strategy because it leaves our region too dependent on the policies of the West, which has repeatedly failed our countries in the past.

It is important to recognize that there is a second dimension to this challenge, namely the global disinformation machine, which greatly exaggerates the above differences. This machine has always aimed to drive a wedge into Central European cooperation. In the past, it was less effective but it found real differences of opinion in the interpretation of the war, which it has been trying to present in a one-sided way. For more than a year now, we have seen the globalist media unilaterally pulling out parts of politicians’ speeches that show differences and muting statements that emphasize the importance of Central European cooperation. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by this, since these media have always wanted to poison the V4 and especially the Hungarian-Polish friendship. That’s why it’s important to get to know each other’s opinions through direct dialogue and not allow ourselves to be played out by adversaries of Central European cooperation.