Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
02 February 2021

The Visegrad Group: A European Region or a Region Against Europe?

The first part of our webinar on “Identity, Mobility and Democracy in Europe” took place on 29 January.

Once a loose yet enthusiastic group of East-Central European post-communist countries, the Visegrad Group (V4) has progressively acquired the reputation of a Eurosceptic region where delayed nation-building processes and national identitarian discourses oppose and block European cohesion. Is such a label justified? What paths exist to overcome democratic backsliding or stagnation?

The first part of a webinar on “Identity, Mobility and Democracy in Europe”, organised by the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in collaboration with the Department of International History and the Global Governance Centre, featured Adam Balazs, Visiting Fellow, International History Department, and Grégoire Mallard, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology and Director of Research, Graduate Institute.

Dr. Balazs noted that, because the V4 is a loose form of cooperation, the visibility of the region depends largely on the actors in charge on the national scale. Focusing on the case of Hungary, he described a self-proclaimed "province" where the regime has replaced global connections with an identitarian narrative of a "freedom fight" against Western Europe. The country is in a situation of “state capture”, he added, and it is not clear whether elections are still the means to effect change.

Professor Mallard highlighted that “Hungary is not alone in Europe – far from it”. He drew links with ongoing “culture wars” in countries such as France, noting these have roots in the “amnesia” European countries, as well as the European project, have demonstrated regarding their colonial past. He also underlined the “institutional vulnerabilities” the Hungarian example reveals, including that the EU remains largely an inter-governmental organization despite many advances towards supranationalism.

The event was moderated by Christine Lutringer, Executive Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy. A third panelist, Professor Ladislav Cabada from Metropolitan University Prague, was not able to join due to technical issues.


Join us for the second part of the webinar:

Wednesday 10 February (10:00 - 11:30 am)
The Western Balkans: Local Priorities, Fractured Regional Perspectives.
with Jasmin Hasic, Velibor JakovleskiJovana Mihajlović Trbovc, Ivan Vejvoda and Maria Mexi




The Visegrad Group A European Region or a Region Against Europe?