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Submitted by redakcja2 on Tue, 04/27/2021 - 02:18
An initiative to understand the Visegrad Cooperation

The Warsaw-based Waclaw Felczak Institute came out with a book, titled Atlas Wyszehradzki, that not only deserves attention, but can serve as a wonderful initiative to understand the Visegrad Cooperation more.

Back in 2019, I had the pleasure of taking part in a discussion that swirled around the Three Seas Initiative. Concerning the challenges the Initiative faces, one participant asked the question, “OK, I understand the need for connectivity in the region—but why is it hard to build these roads?” The question left me a bit perplexed, as the Tatras and the Carpathian Mountains do present a challenge in the creation of a North-South transport corridor in Central Europe—but the geographical realities of the region was not a thing that came right off the bat for everyone.

Nowadays there is a need for initiatives, books, conferences, etc. that aim at bridging the gap present in policy planning, policy-making and security policy by turning back to two main notions: history and geography. Both straits have been put, at least partially, on the sidelines—leaving a gap of understanding that needs to be addressed.

Atlas Wyszehradzki aims at filling this hole. The book consists of a series of detailed maps, followed by individual analysis to all of them. Authors and editors carefully selected data and maps of physical geography, human geography, and integrated geography to describe Visegrad Four countries in 2020/21. The result is an astounding work that brings contemporary and fresh data to the table (there are even COVID-19 related maps in the selection!)—something that is definitely needed to understand the states participating in the Visegrad Cooperation, and to gain deeper knowledge about the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

The 300-page-long book has an interesting duality: the selected maps present very important facts about the V4 countries, and these maps are accompanied by some that show interesting factors of regional countries. For instance, the section showing intra-V4 cooperation in the framework of Horizon2020 portrays a web of connections we rarely talk about, let alone visualize. In this sense, I found the map showing the gravitation of cities the most important, as it can definitely help understand intra-regional migration movements, and factors concerning the location of services, factories etc.

The Visegrad Cooperation has been in existence for 30 years, and in the last decade, one of the main engines of the framework proved to be the International Visegrad Fund (IVF). The role of IVF has been essential in building up connections between NGOs, civic organizations, and members of the general public. In 2021, a valid argument exists that the idea of the Visegrad Cooperation is more and more preserved by organizations. In this sense, a Polish institution’s initiative to publish such a selection as this atlas, is not only remarkable, but an example I would be more than happy to see being followed.

However diverse are the maps in subject featured in the book, this selection could not have been “complete”. Personally, I would really like to see a second version of this atlas that shows maps and even deeper connections between historical data and current sectoral situation (e.g. in the field of energy production and energy security, by showing the decline of the regional mining industry), or building on the maps of this edition (e.g. showing the situation of the food processing industry). From a security policy perspective, I can only encourage people engaged in the creation of this book to think about factors (such as climate change) that [can] pose threat(s) to regional countries, and help policy-makers by providing easily understandable, yet deep maps and data to develop initiatives.


Foreign policy analyst Zsombor Zeöld holds an MA in Central and Eastern European Studies from the Jagiellonian University. As the current CEPAHIF Andrássy Fellow in Washington D.C., his main research topic is the Three Seas Initiative.


The book is to be purchased here