Slovakia between the EU and the Visegrad Four
Will Slovakia choose to side with the core of the EU, over a close cooperation within the V4?
The Slovak tide is about to change
Last year the V4 was lobbying strongly against a wave of refugees and migrants entering the EU. Even though the V4 is officially still opposing migration into the EU, the situation within the V4 has changed. The governments of Slovakia and the Czech Republic have probably realised that a future close cooperation with the EU core will bring more advantages than siding with the “disobedient” V4. The Advantages of a closer EU integration aren´t only immediate euro funds, but it is the whole future integration of member states that serve as economic pledges.
The EU has decisive power over the V4 in economic and legal questions. As an example, Slovakia and Hungary just received a decision of the European Court that rejected their claims against migration quotas. The Prime minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico commented that: “We have to accept this decision, but we can still solve the migration crisis otherwise”. Meaning that he wants support countries, which have problems with an overwhelming wave of refugees and migrants, such as Italy and Greece, but not with quotas. He means, that Slovakia can support these countries by sending protection to their borders and sending food supplies for migrants. But definitely not through the redistribution of refugees within the EU through a quota system.
The fact is that all V4 countries are dependent on the foreign investors and employers from Western EU countries and on their exports to the other parts of the EU. Loss of positive economic pledges could significantly harm the economies of the V4 as a whole. Negative relationships with the EU could also discourage new investors.
On the other side, active membership in the V4 means for Slovakia a higher cultural cooperation and protection in the region against migration from third countries. However, a stronger V4, that is to say, a strong regional cooperation and regional identity is not something that the EU wants to see. The EU pressures countries to focus on the unity of the European Union itself and a strong V4 thwarts this unity.
The attraction of the core
The so called core of the EU includes the old member states such as Germany and France. What will happen if Slovakia will become part of this core?
First of all, more EU means more pledges. The EU will demand higher asylum seeker quotas. But R. Fico doesn’t talk about this. He only emphasizes the advantages of a close cooperation with these countries: social, labour advantages and more. The Slovak national interest is to limit migration into Slovakia, and this was reflected in R. Fico’s attitude and speeches. But now it seems very plausible that the Prime Minister Fico will prefer to side with the core of the EU over a close V4 cooperation, because of economic assurances and euro-funds. That would of course be a paradox, since R. Fico was against the migration policy of the EU and asylum seeker redistribution quotas. Especially before the last parliamentary elections, he was an ardent opponent of these policies! Yet now he talks only about joining the core of EU and the advantages that would bring. Recently, the Prime Minister said: „I am very much interested in regional cooperation within the Visegrad Four but Slovakia’s vital interest is the EU.”
Advantages of a close cooperation with the core of EU can bring for Slovakia a common European army, higher minimal wage, maybe some lower taxes… but can Slovaks accept a common asylum and migration policy within the EU? It is very unlikely. The core of the EU will eventually become a new state with a higher power. And entering this core should be decided by the citizens of the Slovakia, not by politicians.
This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.
History of Slovakia speaks clearly: "Vysegrad 4 (V4) was here long before the European Union"
The political importance of the V4 for Slovakia
All member states of the European Union (EU) are represented in the European Parliament, but for example Germany has 96 Members and France has 74, while Slovakia only 13, so Slovaks really have little chance of deciding anything.
Slovakia can only be promoted in the EU by associating itself with similar states like ours, such as the Czech Republic or Hungary, and here we come to one of the most important tasks of the V4. Through joint EU V4 cooperation, Slovakia has more power to achieve what it wants.
The historical importance of the V4 for Slovakia
However, the V4 is more than just a regional community. It is made up of landscapes that combine the same history, a similar national identity, culture, mentality. V4 membership is very important for Slovakia. If we look into history, irrefutable facts confirm this.
Vysegrad 4 was founded in 1991 as a community of three neighboring states (the Czechoslovak Federal Republic, the Republic of Hungary and the Republic of Poland); later, after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, 4 neighboring states, in times of the collapse of socialism. It constituted a significant entity in the transition from the totalitarian regime to the democracies of the respective states. Each country has been helping each other for over 20 years.
This community is more than just a political organization; it is a natural union between 4 countries whose common history dates back more than 1000 years. The V4 arose long before Slovakia joined the EU, but it came into being at a time when the Soviet Union fell apart and we know from history that changing the regime and with that the foreign-policy orientation of the whole state is a demanding process. After the collapse of communist regimes, the co-operation of these countries played an important role. The whole effort was supported by the fact that these states often followed the same path, for example joining NATO, and on May 1, 2004, the European Union.
V4 membership does not hinder EU integration
When we move forward, we can see that the importance of the V4 can only be deepened, due to the growing European integration, which can lead to the extreme of placing one European identity over the national identity of each European state and its peculiarities.
Finally, it should be added that the V4 Group did not appear to be an alternative to the European integration effort, nor did it attempt to compete with existing functional European structures. Its activities do not in any way lead to the isolation or weakening of relations with other countries. On the contrary, the goal of this group is to encourage optimal co-operation with all countries, especially with their neighbors, to support and develop each other.
The state of the votes
Stay with V4