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Prospects of Central European regional partnership

July 4th, 2014

As Hungary passes the rotating presidency of the Visegrád 4 cooperation scheme to Slovakia, a conservative columnist finds it disappointing that the V4 group has mostly failed to create a close Central European regional partnership. Another right-wing pundit and his left-wing counterpart, however, believe that the Orbán government is doing its best to improve its ties with neighbouring states, although it does not always succeed.

Magyar Hírlap’s László Bogár comments on the Polish leaks scandal (see BudaPost June 25). He contends that Visegrad cooperation has not been successful. As in the past, the V4 countries have missed the opportunity to create strong regional partnership in order to assert their joint interests in the “buffer zone” between empires, the conservative economist notes. Instead of creating a close regional alliance, the V4 countries have tried to secure their interests through individual deals with Western powers, Bogár believes. These agreements, he concludes, will not help Central European countries protect their interests.

In Népszabadság, József Szilvássy suggests that despite the recent détente between Hungary and Slovakia, relations between the two countries are still strained as a result of the dispute over dual citizenship (see BudaPost February 18, 2012). Despite PM Orbán’s symbolic gestures, many of the previously announced bilateral projects have stalled, and Slovakia has not become any more accommodating towards the needs of the Hungarian minority, Szilvássy remarks.

The Orbán government considers strengthening Central European regional cooperation a priority, István Pataky writes in Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government columnist points out that Hungary and the rest of the V4 have common economic and geopolitical interests as well as a similar cultural and historical heritage which make cooperation necessary. Pataky recalls that the Orbán government is running a very successful economic and political partnership with Serbia, which has become attentive to the needs of transborder Hungarians. Despite Bratislava’s unfriendly reactions to the introduction of non-resident Hungarian citizenship, the Hungarian government keeps developing good economic relations with Slovakia, Pataky adds. The Orbán government is trying to consolidate its relationship with Romania, despite the rather hostile approach the Ponta government shows towards minority rights.

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