Vienna, May 5 (MTI) – Addressing a forum in Vienna on Europe’s future, Hungary’s minister of human resources called for unity in central Europe, arguing that the bloc’s strength depended on cooperation in its heartland.
Urging closer cooperation between Austria and the Visegrad Four grouping of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, Zoltán Balog said: “The world has no use for a weak Europe that cannot obey its duty to poorer nations”.
Europe’s political, economic and cultural future lies in central European unity, Balog told MTI after a podium discussion at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.
The discussion focused on issues “that pose at least as serious problems to Austria and Europe as they do to Hungary”, he said, mentioning migration, demographic challenges, competitiveness and domestic and international security.
In his keynote speech, Balog said Europe should return to its habit of conducting dialogue at the regional level rather than concentrating minds in Brussels.
He warned against drawing comparisons between migration and the free flow of people within the bloc. Whereas it is true that European identity comprises diversity, mass migration brings to the continent vastly different cultures, the minister said, adding that refugees must be provided help in their countries of origin.
Former Austrian Chancellor Erhard Busek said Europe’s primary task was to meet the challenges posed by the “dramatic changes” that have taken place in central Europe. He said that instead of criticising other governments and neighbouring countries, Europe should look deeper into the background of the developments happening on the continent that have an impact on its future.
Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, professor at Budapest’s German-language Andrassy University, said there was now a greater need for a strong Europe than ever before. He said EU institutions and member states have to work together to find a solution to Europe’s current situation.
Heidemarie Uhl, historian at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, said Europe had reached a cultural milestone where “many things will disappear” while new cultural phenomena will also emerge.