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Czechs should consider leaving V4 as membership harms them

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Prague, July 12 (CTK) – Participation in the Visegrad Four (V4) group harms the Czechs rather than benefits, since it results in the European West lumping them together with the other V4 states, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, which do not have a good reputation in the EU, Jiri Pehe writes in Tuesday’s Pravo.

In the past, the V4 used to be a good marketing brand for its four members’ foreign policy. V4 membership was helpful to the members’ efforts to enter the EU and NATO, Pehe writes.

The previous existence of such big common goals overshadowed the often considerable political differences in the individual member countries, such as those emerging under Vladimir Meciar’s government (1992-1998) in Slovakia and Jaroslaw Kaczynski (2006-2007) in Poland, Pehe writes.

The V4 survived everything at the time. The question is what the V4 is good for now, he says.

In recent years, the developments in the V4 countries have highlighted rather than softened the differences ensuing from the different mentality, size, ambitions and history of the nations involved, Pehe continues.

The V4 members have much fewer common interests than 20 years ago when their joint “heritage” of the Soviet yoke was still strongly present as was their joint effort to return to Europe, Pehe writes.

Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have all experienced (and Poland and Hungary are still experiencing) one-party governments that restored autocratic tendency known from the respective countries’ pre-war history, Pehe writes.

The Czech Republic has resisted to such development not only due to its different history but also because it is a “more modern” country, more urbanised and industrial and with a smaller gap between the largest cities and the rest of the country, Pehe writes.

However, Prague has been viewed as an integral part of the V4. It is of no help to the Czech Republic that though the West perceives it as rather Eurosceptic, the Czech government has shown a more moderate and EU-friendly policy in the past years, mainly during the migrant crisis, compared with the frequent loud banging of fists on the table by the remaining V4 countries, Pehe writes.

V4 politicians like to assert that the V4’s voice in the EU has intensified recently, mainly as a result of its uncompromising positions and proposals concerning the migrant crisis, Pehe writes.

In fact, however, the V4 is widely viewed as a grouping that has growing problems with democracy and whose members like to draw money from rich EU countries while refusing to show solidarity with them, Pehe writes.

In spite of Czech politicians’ assertions about the beneficial effects of the Czech V4 membership, its most striking impact is that the European West lumps the Czechs together with the countries that simply do not have a good reputation in the EU, irrespective of Prague’s wish that they do have it, Pehe writes.

From the point of history, too, it would make more sense for the Czechs to take a position of Central Europeans oriented westwards, towards their German-speaking neighbours, rather than eastwards and northwards, Pehe concludes.

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