CEPI Director Milan Nič and Vít Dostál from AMO, Prague, elaborated on the results of the unique survey Trends of Visegrad Foreign Policy 2015 and Central Europe’s outlook on the EU and foreign policy for Carnegie Europe.
The results indicate several interesting trends. First of all, the Visegrad Group will remain a cohesive bloc on the EU level on some relevant issues such as energy and migration. Also, bilateral relations within the Visegrad Group are now perceived as excellent. While the ongoing migration crisis has brought about a major parting between Berlin and the V4 capitals, Central Europeans still consider Germany their most important partner. At the same time, the external view of the V4 at the moment might just be the opposite: other capitals may perceive Visegrad as an obstructionist bloc that refuses to share the burden of migration pressures and prevents other states from devising new EU policies on the refugees conundrum.
The authors warn, however, that if the V4 continue to promote a different vision of Europe (as a fortress), Germany will be increasingly tempted to go around the Central European countries, working out joint solutions with a smaller core group or a coalition of willing member states, as it has already been trying to do on a plan to resettle refugees from Turkish camps later this year. That carries two major risks for the V4 countries. First, their clout within the EU will diminish even further. And second, a German-led core group approach will spill over into key strategic areas for the V4, such as energy, security, and cohesion policy.
If the Visegrad Group as a whole turns away from Berlin and Brussels, the big winner will be Russia. And the big losers will be the Central Europeans. Such an outcome goes against the founding raison d’être of the Visegrad Group, which celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary in February 2016.
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