“Central Europe is closing the gap increasingly markedly and is formulating increasingly strong and distinct political opinions, which is causing irritation to many”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Parliamentary State Secretary Levente Magyar declared in Bratislava on Friday, where he took part in a panel discussion at the GLOBSEC foreign and security policy forum.

One of the main topics of the panel discussion was illiberal democracy, with relation to which several current European issues were also debated.

In a statement to Hungarian public media following the panel discussion, Mr. Magyar said he had highlighted the fact that according to Hungary’s standpoint, a democracy doesn’t have to be intrinsically liberal, because it can just as easily be conservative, Christian or Christian Democrat, but still stand on democratic foundations regardless.

“All the features of a democracy can be found in Hungary, but as far as the features of liberalism go, most of those cannot”, the State Secretary pointed out.

When during the course of the discussion the subject turned to the relationship between the Visegrád Group (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) and Europe, in several instances a kind of bias could be observed with relation to Central Europe, he said.

With relation to this, Mr. Magyar underlined: “The countries of Central Europe are also part of Europe and have an interest in Europe being strong; the only dispute between them and the countries of Western Europe concerns the path that needs to be taken in the interests of achieving this goal”.

“A few years ago the process began thanks to which the countries of Central Europe can no longer be regarded as poor eastern relatives who need to shut up”, he explained.

“Political unity has begun to appear on the political map, and this is a novelty, as is the fact that we represent an increasing market and economic power and formulate distinct opinions in opposition to certain mainstream opinions”, the State Secretary pointed out, adding: “This is causing major irritation, because there are those who believe that Central Europe’s place in the joint European construct is not where it is placing itself, but a few floors below that”. “We, however, have enough self-confidence to expect to be treated as equal partners”, he underlined.

The irritation caused by the increasing strength of Central Europe also goes hand-in-hand with certain discriminative attempts, such as the plans relating to the next EU financial framework according to which a criteria would be introduced with relation to cohesion funding based on which less money should be made available to countries where there is lower unemployment, he pointed out.

“This is clearly negatively discriminatory towards Central Europe, where we are practicing successful economic policies”, he stated.