Ženíšek: We belong to the West and the V4 in the history books. Its continuation no longer makes sense

The Visegrad Group has succeeded in bringing these four post-communist countries together as members of the Euro-Atlantic structures after 1989, and this will surely also give it a worthy place in our history. This is even though Slovakia had to wait until 2004 to join NATO, while the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary became the first Eastern Bloc countries to join NATO in 1999.

7. 3. 2024

However, there are different answers to the question of why we want to continue in this grouping. Proponents point out that we have common themes, while opponents say that there are not so many. Moreover, most of them can be resolved bilaterally and only a common history of communist subjugation is no longer sufficient today.

There are many assumptions why a continuation of the V4 could be successful, but most of them do not quite make sense in practice. There is, for example, the assumption that the V4 can be a sufficient force in the EU. But in practice the results are questionable, and if we were to direct our energy and time within the V4 elsewhere and to other countries, we would be just as successful, perhaps more successful, in forming ad hoc alliances on particular issues.

Another argument often mentioned is that through the V4 we can influence those countries whose governments do not share the same values, concept of the rule of law or foreign policy direction. In practice, however, we very often encounter that V4 meetings are used by these countries in the domestic political arena to refute the argument of the local opposition that they are being isolated on the international scene.

The fundamental question is whether we even want the Czech Republic to be perceived externally through the Visegrad area and the policies of its members, whoever is in power in some countries. Of course, we will not change the geographical location of our country. Nor has anyone moved Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia elsewhere. Yet today, hardly anyone thinks of them as a former part of the USSR. Even the last-mentioned country is now perceived by many as part of the so-called Nordic Countries. Slovenia is now more of an Alpine country than anyone would associate with the former Yugoslavia, and Poland has decided to use all its potential to strengthen its position in Europe as well.

We all often say that we belong and want to belong to the West, but the V4 cannot and will not help us to do this any more, quite the opposite.