The German Marshall Fund (GMF) held a roundtable discussion on, “Trends in Central Europe: Addressing Liberal Democracy” on Sept. 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. The event featured former Slovak Ambassador to the U.S., Rastislav Káčer, who served from 2003-2008. Amb. Káčer currently serves as Chairman, GLOBSEC-Bratislava, a non-governmental organization promoting transatlantic relations and values. The session featured a presentation of recent GLOBSEC public opinion research by Amb. Jakub Wiśniewski, former Polish Ambassador to the OECD, and currently GLOBSEC Vice President and Director of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute. Comments were also provided by GLOBSEC President Robert Vass, and the roundtable was moderated by GMF Senior Fellow Johnathan Katz. FOS Board members Ken Bombara and Richard Marko attended the session along with numerous government, embassy, and NGO representatives.
The GLOBSEC survey covered a representative sample of the population in the ‘V-4’ countries (Czech Rep., Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) during the period Feb/Mar 2018. The survey asked a number of questions about perception of the EU, NATO, Russia and other topics and issues. The data show a complicated picture across the V-4 countries when it comes to these topics. For example, a significant percentage of citizens in the V-4 see their geopolitical position as ‘somewhere between East and West’ with many preferring the West. Slovaks overall however, are showing a slight lean to the East recently, compared with their V-4 neighbors. Slovak youth (aged 18-24) in contrast are substantially leaning away from the East recently. While a bare majority of Slovaks overall perceive the EU as ‘good thing’, Slovak youth are more positive about it. While only 50% of Slovaks would vote in a referendum to ‘stay in NATO, percentages have increased in 2018, particularly among Slovak youth. The GLOBSEC study provides a range of intriguing and nuanced insights and findings. The transatlantic community of nations is facing many challenges. Amb. Káčer believes that increased engagement by the E.U and U.S. will be essential to effectively address current trends in Central Europe and strengthen transatlantic bonds.