Central Europe map

Two-thirds of citizens in central and eastern Europe want to see regional cooperation further strengthened, the head of the Nézőpont Institute said at a conference on the subject in Budapest on Wednesday.

At the conference on central European cooperation, Csaba Fodor said that of the 1,000 respondents each surveyed in 9 countries, 80 percent had heard of the Visegrád Group, and 65 percent saw the forum as important. Only 20 percent had heard of the Three Seas Initiative — a forum of CEE countries belonging to the EU around the Baltics, Adriatic and Black Sea — but 64 percent viewed that as important, too, he said.

The countries involved in the survey were Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Fully 75 percent of respondents said they supported their countries’ EU membership, with the Polish and Romanian support the highest (84 percent). Czech and Slovak citizens were the most critical, where 24 and 28 percent, respectively, wanted a divorce from the bloc. In Hungary, 68 percent said they backed the country’s EU membership.

Asked about the EU leadership, 53 percent said they were dissatisfied with it.

Fully 74 percent of respondents rejected migration from outside the continent, and 65 percent were in favour of preserving Europe’s Christian culture, Fodor cited the survey as saying.

Speaking at the conference, Speaker of Parliament László Kövér (ruling Fidesz) said that political elites in western and central and eastern Europe had given different answers to the challenges of preserving a secure democracy on the continent. They agree that the rule of law and the welfare state are assets, Kover said. But on the need to preserve the “steadiest cornerstones of our identity”, such as sexual, family, religious and national identity, they cannot see eye to eye, he said. This is the biggest rift within the EU, he said. In the coming years, citizens of western European countries will have to stand ready to reject a policy devoid of the concept of identity within the framework of democracy, he said.

Cooperation of central and eastern European countries can strengthen all partners, thereby strengthening the “democratic order” of the region, he said.

Defining common goals can also save these countries from becoming pawns in other countries’ power games, Kövér said.

Featured image: Wiki Commons By Scooter20

Source: MTI

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