The director of the Institute of Polish-Hungarian Cooperation, Prof. Maciej Szymanowski gave an interview to Niezalezna.pl at the Conservative Summit in Bratislawa on Poland and Hungary in the lest few months – excerpts from the talk below.
Aleksander Mimier, Niezalezna.pl: The years of warning the European Union against Russia as an unfriendly state did not bring any effect. Central Europe admits it is right only after a renewed aggression in Ukraine, and the region gains its subjectivity. This seems to be the main axis of the discussions at the Conservative Summit in Bratislava.
Prof. Maciej Szymanowski: (…) I am very happy about this initiative (Conservative Summit – aut.). Initiatives that bring together people who are not ideologues are not pseudo-journalists. They are people involved in the public life of their countries, mainly here in Central Europe. They know how to make changes and are positive about cooperation. We are not here to bill ourselves for the wrongs of the past. We look at the glass half full, with the prospect of being filled again. As Central Europe, the fastest-growing region in the world in the last twenty years, we should have more and more to say in the European Union. This awareness is growing. It is present in Poland, as well as in Hungary.
This initiative proves that Slovaks feel that they would like to connect to it. Evidently they ask us: “what should we do to …?”. From a region that was before I pushed – I am talking about the years before 1989, but we are also becoming a subject. This is a very good signal.
What formats should the projects be implemented in?
The Visegrad Group is twice as important economically for the largest economy in the EU – Germany – than France. Let us be aware of these proportions. The same Visegrad Group that was able to stop the idea of mass migration non-Europeans to Europe a few years ago. We are still able to do a lot in this format.In addition, we have the Three Seas Initiative – an agreement between NATO’s eastern flank and the European Union countries. We also have a soft format – from Georgia and Armenia to Austria – the Europe of the Carpathians, under the patronage of the Sejm and Marshal Marek Kuchciński.
If there are voices that “something is impossible”, it is usually possible in this part of Europe. That’s what Poland says, that’s what Hungary says; then more countries join. Yes it is, we have to be a lonely flag on a ship that pulls the rest. Let us not be afraid of this, it is the role of Poland. It is very good that in recent years our governments – first Prime Minister Beata Szydło, today Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki – are fully aware of this. Which doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems with this strategy.
How do you assess Polish-Hungarian relations nearly seven months after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine? The message of some media paints a picture of divided nephews.
Poland and Hungary fell victim. The statements of Prime Ministers Mateusz Morawiecki and Viktor Orban were twisted. Many circles and influential media – especially those with German capital – have done very hard work to divide us. Of course, no one is questioning the fact that there is a discrepancy between the policies of Warsaw and Budapest. However, there are no differences in goals; Hungary has no doubts that it was Russia that attacked Ukraine and that it was Russia that had to withdraw from Ukraine. There is certainly no support for Russia in Hungary. There is a disagreement over the tactics. Hungarians are very afraid that when there is no gas and industry stops, there will be an agreement beyond countries, for example in the Germany-France-Russia format. Hungarians remember what happened after the annexation of Crimea. The monument to the attack on Ukraine in 2014 is Nord Stream 2. Let us remember that it was forced by Germany. If the principle of majority voting and no veto were in force then, we would all finance the construction of this gas pipeline from our taxes, including Polish ones.