On Wednesday, 4 February 2015, the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) hosted a panel debate on how to re-activate the US presence in the Visegrad region. The debate was chaired by Dušan Fischer, Analyst of Research Centre of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association. Panellists discussed the role of the US in the Visegrad region, the ability of the V4 countries to attract the US attention, main areas where the interest of the US and the V4 collide, and capacity of the V4 to build a common strategy.
Marian Majer, CEPI’s Senior Fellow pointed out that despite a recent trend in the US gradual disinterest in Central Europe, it is vital to keep the US engaged in the region. However, instead of passively waiting for the US, the V4 countries should adopt a more proactive approach, do their homework and come up with their own ideas. Marian Majer highlighted the increase in defence spending and framework of NATO’s Rreadiness Actions Plans as relevant areas to be developed in this regard. Daniel Bartha, Executive Director of Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy in Budapest underlined the need to focus more on common agenda beyond the area of security, while he identified start-ups and the digital economy development as top priorities. Helena Schulzová, Research Coordinator of EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy in Prague discussed the lack of cohesion among V4 with regard to topics of essential interests for the US such as TTIP and energy. Overall, panelist agreed that there were no short-term solutions and re-engagement of the US presence in Central Europe requires first and foremost setting proactively the agenda by the V4 countries.