2011. 02. 02.
Mr. Szájer spoke openly about the state of financial affairs in the European Union and sent messages of encouragement to the students about their future in the European Union. He said, “The EPP is a true European force for a strong Europe, trying to fuse together strength and ambition so that we can overcome our problems.” He further focused on topics of unity, cohesion, and common goals, while supported the Hungarian President’s re-raising of the question of enlargement, likening the EU to a family, saying that “if someone wants to come in with goodwill, then we will receive them.” Overall Mr. Szájer’s message was a hopeful one of a united “Europe strong,” despite the recent economic struggles.
Following Mr. Szájer’s speech, the moderator introduced the Visegrad Group, which is a regional organization comprised of neighboring countries from Central Eastern Europe: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland. The Visegrad Group was founded in 1991 by the nations’ joint motivation to overcome the painful communist histories in order to achieve the social transformation necessary to fully join European integration. Slovakia currently holds the presidency of the Visegrad Group and is the only country of the group on the Euro, while Hungary holds the EU presidency, previously held by the Czech Republic, and Poland is next to serve the presidency.
The various ambassadors to the European Union present at the panel discussion included Milena Vicenová of the Czech Republic, Jan Tombinski of Poland, Ivan Korcok of Slovakia, as well as Botond Zakonyi, counselor to the Ambassador of Hungary. Each panelist spoke about the importance of the Visegrad Group for each member state because of the joint interest and common heritage and goals shared amongst these regionally connected nations. The Czech Ambassador explained that the common history and experience shared by Visegrad nations often creates a common position within the European Union that is both important to geographical balance and ensuring proper representation for member states. Other topics discussed included the importance of engaging the societies of neighboring non-European Union countries like Ukraine and Belarus and securing an energy future. In regards to industry, Ivan Hodác, Secretary General from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, highlighted the importance of enlargement economically to the European Union and supported extending membership to Turkey and the Balkan states. The conference ended with a brief question and answer session by the students to the panelists, which focused on relations and influence of the Visegrad Group towards Ukraine and Belarus and the importance of cooperation amongst nations.