The German Marshall Fund organized a roundtable discussion on September 21, 2018, in Washington, DC, titled “Trends in Central Europe: Addressing Liberal Democracy.” The former Slovak Ambassador to the U.S., Rastislav Káčer, who served from 2003-2008, was the main speaker at the event. Currently, Amb. Káčer is the Chairman of GLOBSEC, a non-governmental organization that promotes transatlantic relations and values. The session featured a presentation of recent GLOBSEC public opinion research by Amb. Jakub Wiśniewski, the former Polish Ambassador to the OECD and currently GLOBSEC Vice President and Director of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute. Additionally, GLOBSEC President Robert Vass provided comments, and the roundtable was moderated by GMF Senior Fellow Johnathan Katz. The session was attended by FOS Board members Ken Bombara and Richard Marko, along with various government, embassy, and NGO representatives.
The GLOBSEC survey was conducted in Feb/March 2018, covering a representative sample of the population in the Visegrad Four countries, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The survey aimed to understand the perception of the citizens towards various topics including the EU, NATO, Russia, and other issues. The findings of the survey reveal a complicated picture across the V4 countries. For instance, a significant percentage of citizens in the V4 countries perceive their geopolitical position as ‘somewhere between East and West’, with many having a preference towards the West. However, Slovaks are showing a slight inclination towards the East as compared to their V4 neighbors. On the other hand, Slovak youth aged between 18-24 are leaning more towards the West recently. While a bare majority of Slovaks view the EU as a ‘good thing’, Slovak youth have a more positive opinion about it. Additionally, although only 50% of Slovaks would vote in favor of NATO in a referendum, the percentages have increased in 2018, particularly among Slovak youth. The GLOBSEC study provides a range of intriguing and nuanced insights and findings. Given the existing challenges, Amb. Káčer believes that increased engagement by the EU and US will be essential to effectively address current trends in Central Europe and strengthen transatlantic bonds.