Journal UNISCI/Revista UNISCI nº 54 (October/ Octubre 2020) THE VISEGRAD GROUP: Regional Cooperation, Politics, Populism, Migration, Great Powers competition, Security and Defense. Jaroslav Ušiak (guest editor)

Antonio Marquina: Editor´s Note/Nota Editorial
Selected Bibliography/Bibliografía Seleccionada

The Visegrad Group

Visegrad Group as institution for Central European cooperation: Ups and downs of small international...

Jaroslav Ušiak
Abstract:Central Europe has always been an integral part of all processes on the European continent. Nowadays, more than 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Central Europe has broad opportunities for cooperation in all areas and is fully integrated into various regional and international organisations. Using qualitative methods—analysis and comparison with combination with the theory of social constructivism—help us understand the social phenomena of cooperation among states. Based on social constructivism theory, our article elaborates on the factors of cooperation between individual states, focusing on the cooperation of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries in Central Europe. We examine the factors leading to the establishment of V4 cooperation, its form, and specific features related to the European Regional Security Complex, as well as future challenges
Keywords: Visegrad Group, Central Europe, Regional Cooperation, Security Environment, Security Challenges.

Central Europe in the new Millennium: The new Great Game?

Šárka Waisová
Abstract: After the fall of communism, Central Europe (CE) was a region with relatively high US interest and support. Washington supported the NATO membership of CE countries, provided financial as well as technical assistance to the region and several American high-positioned political representatives visited the region. However, during the last few years, it is evident that CE is a space where the Russian and Chinese presence and influence have been risen. The present article analyses several questions aiming to scrutinize the Russian and Chinese presence and activities in CE, particularly, when and how Russia and China penetrated into CE, what are the consequences of the rising Russian and Chinese influence and who are the supporters and opponents of Moscow and Beijing in CE. The article concludes that, the main competing actors in CE are Washington and Russia, while China profits from the US-Russia clash. While the US and Russian interests are dominat in security and political issues, China aims to penetrate CE economics..
Keywords: Central Europe, Russia, China, Influence, United States.

Disillusionment with liberal democracy in the Visegrad countries

Lucia Husenicova
Abstract: The disillusionment with Europe and integration process is spreading through the continent. However, it appears to be stronger in countries of the Central Europe, specifically V4. Countries that have joined the democratic club at the end of 20th century show today higher potential to be governed by populistic and nationalistic parties. The article addresses the issue of perception of democracy in V4 countries through the scope of analysis of scientific publications as well as opinion polls conducted by national or international agencies. It works with several definitions of democracy and liberal democracy as a theoretical background and confronts them with how these are perceived by the people in the selected V4 countries. The opinion polls show, that people in these countries value democracy as a concept, and value the freedom that it brings, however, their everyday life and political decision are often impacted by the social and economic conditions they are living in.
Keywords : Liberal Democracy, Central Europe, Visegrad Group, Populism, Nationalism.

“To protect national sovereignty from the EU?” The 2019 EP elections and populist parties...

Vladimír Naxera, Viktor Glied, Ondřej Filipec, Małgorzata Kaczorowska
Abstract: This article analyses the 2019 European Parliament (EP) election manifestos of populist parties in V4 countries as a contribution to the contemporary discussion on political populism. The aim of the study is to analyze the election campaign programs which populist parties operating in individual V4 countries presented for EP elections in 2019, using a qualitative content analysis of the official election programs of relevant populist parties and other sources of their communication. It tries to identify topics that have been framed as a problem or risk by Central European populists and how these topics have been interpreted in their programs. The so-called “immigration crisis” and the contemporary state of the European Union are seen as the most problematic topics by a majority of the populists. On the other hand, the majority of these parties do not want some Central European version of Brexit. Their rhetorical goal is rather the reform the Union.
Keywords: Populist parties, EP Elections, Central Europe, V4.

Social-Conservative Russian soft power: A traditional agenda and illiberal values as a source of...

Martin Solik
Abstract: The ongoing polarization of European society in the political-ideological context is apparent. This polarization causes considerable tension in society. Sophisticated soft power based on political values and policies that Russia has been using against the West especially since 2012 is a power struggle for people’s minds and souls. Russia does not only try to undercut faith in Europe and its institutions among its citizens, but it also aims to offer an “better” alternative. There is an increasing effort to create an alternative value universe against the “nihilist” and “decadent” West – not only in Russia but also in the whole World. There is quite a visible ambition from the Russian side to become the “illiberal” world leader. This contribution has been drawn up in the context of this urgent issue. The article examines whether Russian soft power fulfils the criteria of attractiveness or just coercion, and what Russia is pursuing by promoting this form of power.
Keywords: Russia, Slovakia, Central Europe, illiberal values, conservativism, traditionalism.

Migration trends and challenges in the Visegrad countries

Sandor Gallai
Abstract: The Visegrad region experienced the aging and the decline of its population in the past 30 years, as happened in other Eastern European countries. That development was aggravated by net emigration, the scale of which was overestimated at the time of the political regime changes and underestimated after the EU Eastern expansion. This article presents and analyses the main trends in migration to and from the Visegrad countries, and tries to prove that political considerations and public attitudes often prevented the formulation of appropriate government responses. Research on the motivations for emigration found that economic opportunities prevail as the most decisive factor in individual decisions on migration. Therefore, at the governmental level, the prospect of success to slow down or reverse the flow of net emigration depends on economic convergence between the Visegrad countries and the West.
Keywords: Demography, population decline, migration, convergence, public attitude, government responses.

The Three Seas Initiative as a new model of regional cooperation in Central Europe:...

Lukasz Lewkowicz
Abstract: The Three Seas Initiative (TSI) is a new Polish-Croatian initiative of regional cooperation in Central Europe, launched in 2016. The goal of TSI was from the beginning cooperation in the areas of: energy, logistics and transport as well as digital cooperation. The aim of the article was to present the conditions of cooperation under TSI, to evaluate the activities of the TSI investment fund, the CEEplus stock index and selected projects implemented under the TSI. Opportunities and challenges currently facing TSI are presented, including the new EU budget, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the region's economy and the influence of external actors. TSI became part of the tradition of Polish political activity in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. From 2018, the Initiative moved from the concept phase to the implementation phase. The concrete “success story” will determine the effectiveness of TSI cooperation
Keywords: Three Seas Initiative, Central Europe, Polish Foreign Policy, Geopolitics.

Challenges for Security and Defence Cooperation in Central Europe: Will the EU be able...

Jaroslav Ušiak, Dominika Trubenová
Abstract: Europe has undergone various security changes in the past and needs to prepare itself for managing the present and future security challenges appearing on the horizon. Within Central Europe, we can see a significant change in its security orientation and a gradual development by continuous involvement in security initiatives such as the current EU-led PESCO. This article aims to show the present Visegrad Group (V4) interest in maintaining an autonomous European security, as well as to analyse the current possibilities and security capabilities of Central European countries. The V4 countries are an important part of NATO and the European Union, even though they are small to medium-sized countries with limited security capabilities. Participation in the creation of collective security under NATO has a stable, several-year position in the countries, but the European Union is on the rise in its security agenda, and that is assumed by the V4 countries with its participation in EU initiatives such as PESCO and the integrated involvement of the V4 in ongoing military projects.
Keywords: V4, Security, Defence Cooperation, Central Europe, European Union, NATO, Capabilities.

Is the “show-the-flag” strategy relevant for Visegrad countries in securing the EU?

Hana N. Hlaváčková
Abstract:: The European security environment has changed and the EU has become more independent in its security policy. New threats faced by the EU in 2014 (the migration crises) and other remaining threats (such as terrorism, organised crime, piracy) need solving by its greater involvement in the region. One problem that the EU tries to solve is the inconsistency of member states in security issues. In this article, we focus on the V4 group and their opinions towards EU security. This article examines strategies adopted by small/new EU member states to protect European borders and European territories and regions outside the EU that affect their security. For a long time, the V4 countries only participated sporadically in EU missions. The article shows what changes took place and what were the reasons for the decision to participate or not in the EU activities. The article raises the question of whether the show-the-flag strategy adopted by the V4 countries and their participation in EU missions is relevant for ensuring European security nowadays.
Keywords: EU, EU Missions, comprehensive approach, V4, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Small/New EU states, political strategies, USA, NATO.