6th February 2017

Euractiv.com: Visegrad on Trump: Anxious but optimistic

The Visegrad Group (V4) of countries may be a little calmer than their West European allies. At least in the short term, they are not likely to be harmed by Trump’s decisions – and while they may not profit significantly from the change of government across the Atlantic, a lack of losses is its own profit, Euractiv.com/Euractiv.cz write and add that Trump will focus on countries like the Czech Republic.

President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman was one of the few European politicians who openly supported Donald Trump. It is probably the reason why he has already been invited to the White House. While it is usually better if politicians talk to each other and have good relations, many in the Czech Republic ask the question is what this relationship is going to mean for the country.

Jan Kovář, researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague says that one of the Trump´s goals is to destabilise the European Union.

“In my view, Trump´s position and stance is based on the idea that the European Union is more a competitor than a partner. He sees the EU in the same way as he sees China. He perceives these countries as competitors,” he told EURACTIV Czech Republic.

“He will focus on countries where we can see clear anti-European stances within politicians and societies. That means countries like the Czech Republic and V4 in general. It is also the reason why he stresses that Angela Merkel´s migration policy is so bad,” he added. 

Both politicians could find a common ground in this field. Last year, the Czech President suggested that a national referendum on membership in the EU and also in NATO would not be a bad idea.

However, Vít Dostál, the Director of research Centre at Association for International Affairs has a different point of view. “The question is how the United States will perceive Czech orientation to the east, mainly to China. For Trump, China is the biggest opponent in the international system. And Chinese effort to gain influence in Middle Europe could be one of the things which the new American administration will focus on,” he thinks.

Chinese investments are an important topic of President Zeman and the visit of the Chinese President in the Czech Republic was, in his opinion, a great success. As far as this topic is concerned, Trump and Zeman could rather argue.

Concerning the Visegrad Group as a whole, the victory of Donald Trump is likely to be bad news. Tomáš Prouza, the State Secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic, shares this view. “According to some of Trump´s statements, it seems that his victory is rather bad for Central and Eastern Europe. At this time, Trump is rather a danger for our defence and economy,” he warns.

In his opinion, the reaction of these countries will be very important. “This situation brings two main tasks for the Czech Republic. First, we have to focus on supporting the internal Single Market and a free trade with third countries. Second, we must strengthen our defence cooperation within Europe including the future creation of European armed forces. We shouldn´t be dependent on the USA in the field of defence anymore,” he stresses.

Recently, the strengthening of our security and defence cooperation has been quite a big topic in the EU. And the V4 countries should have a responsible approach. “The Czech Republic must increase its defence spending because the new American Administration will talk only to the countries that fulfil their obligations,” Radko Hokovský, the executive director of the Prague-based think-tank European Values, says.

Read full article by Euractiv.com/Euractiv.cz that covers the situation in Slovakia, Hungary and Poland (in English). The article in Czech is available here.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic