In Banská Bystrica, young academics and students from the countries of the Visegrad Four met to discuss not only individual countries but especially their role in NATO as a whole. All this is in the context of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Alliance and the 20th anniversary of the entry of the V4 states into NATO. The three-day project itself was preceded by accompanying events, organized by the Euroatlantic Center and its partner organizations, in the capitals of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, but also the Slovak Republic, which were dedicated to the anniversaries mentioned above, directly related to the content of the entire forum.
The director of STRATPOL, Jozef Zekucia, opened the panel discussion with a speech. Petr Luňák, Director of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Section, Marián Majer, Director of the Office of the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic, and Matti Tetrěv, Junior Diplomat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, discussed the topic „70 years of NATO in the world and 20 years in the region of Central Europe“ The program coordinator of the Euro-Atlantic Center, Alan Vagabov, took on the role of moderator.
The panel discussion was followed by workshops where the participants, divided into four groups, analyzed their NATO membership according to the number of V4 countries. In the context of the final outputs of the workshop groups, it was clear that Hungary, after the discussion in the EU on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), considers the European army not necessary, but helpful if it could cooperate with NATO. A very important point of the recommendations was matters of communication, marketing and education. Education and information among young people and students are important aspects that Slovakia should focus on. Many times, precisely as a result of the lack of knowledge about NATO’s basic values and the spread of misinformation, scepticism and doubts occur in a certain part of society. As the only V4 country that pays more than 2% of its GDP to the NATO budget, Poland has the potential to play a stronger role in the Alliance.
Through cooperation and interconnectedness of states and a clear vision, not only in NATO, but also in the V4 grouping, cooperation becomes more promising. We are stronger together, concluded the Czech Republic.
On Friday, VYF culminated, traditionally, with a simulation of the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, where the participants, representing individual delegations, tried to find a consensus on the future Strategic Concept of NATO 2020. The simulation took place in the special premises of the Crisis Management Center (CEKR) of the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations of the UMB in Banská Bystrica.
The Visegrad Youth Forum is a project organized by the Euroatlantic Center in cooperation with the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations of Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica. The eighth year of the Vyšehrad Youth Forum was financially supported by the Public Diplomacy Section of NATO, the International Vyšehrad Fund, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, the city of Banská Bystrica and the Banská Bystrica self-governing region.