Culture is the lifeblood of Central European cooperation and in the absence of culture politics and economies cannot succeed – Minister for Human Resources Zoltán Balog said on Wednesday in Fertőd, western Hungary.

On behalf of Hungary, Minister Balog is hosting Czech, Polish and Slovak representatives at the annual gathering of the Visegrád Four cultural policy leaders in the Esterházy Palace in Fertőd on June 11-12. On the first day of the meeting, participants attended a concert of the National Philharmonic Orchestra in the Palace’s Marionette Theatre.

In his opening speech, Mr. Balog said that the future of Europe demands that in the 21st century the continent must again have a “special centre”, where nations – despite their language barriers – understand one another better than in any other region and can formulate their common interests.
Mr. Balog said that despite common historical and political roots and similar economic interests, it was difficult to say whether the region has a common cultural identity.

DownloadPhoto: Gyula Bartos

The Fertőd meeting was a good opportunity to define those Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak national elements that could constitute the basis of a common cultural identity, the Minister said, adding that “we must find what unites and what separates us, and also enter into dialogue on the latter”. He said these nations can only successfully represent their joint European interests through a common cultural language.

Mr. Balog said the hall that would provide the setting for the evening concert was originally built as a marionette theatre and later hosted opera performances, but in the 1950s, 60s and 70s was used as a stable. It was restored to its concert hall purpose in 2013 and since then it has also hosted a government session. It can take a long time to repair past mistakes, but 25 years after the regime change this has now happened, he said.

After the concert, Minister Balog told journalist that culture must be an integral part of the EU2020 strategy. He said poverty and disadvantaged status should not prevent people’s access to culture and EU funds should also ensure that.

Before the concert, the Visegrad award for preserving and safeguarding Central European spirituality was presented to the National Philharmonic Orchestra. The Orchestra played compositions by Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

(Ministry of Human Resources)