Each generation faces their own specific challenges. The youth is usually blamed by elders for all vices in society. My generation viewed with deep suspicion how Communist ideologues formally pushed and praised young generation while cementing a sclerotic system led by gerontocratic politburos. Twenty-eight years after liberation from that ideological yoke, the younger generation in Central Europe seems to be shaped more by concerns of daily life than by events of historic dimensions.
Today’s youth lives in times seemingly free of these challenges but under growing pressure of economic competitiveness. Although young people enjoy more freedom in all directions and higher mobility in real and virtual space, it looks as if they maintain only a shallow sense of purpose and goal. Yet, this impression could be false. As Malgorzata Fidelis boldly claims while referring to Václav Havel: “There are times when the massive assault on human values could become the source of strength for those who defend them.” The spontaneous activities of Central European students reacting to a need to help refugees on Balkan route could be a source of hope.
On the other hand, polls and surveys support the claim that young generation loses trust in politics, politicians, as well as institutions (including international organizations). Why are the young Czech, Poles, Slovaks, and Hungarians rediscovering national conservatism as a hideout from European integration and a refuge from globalization? Why are the other ones leaving their homeland to seek fortune abroad?
Moving to a global perspective there are more questions than answers. What will be the effects of Trump presidency and Brexit on Central Europe in general and on the relations between Germany and V4? Are we facing a return of geopolitics in Central Europe? In an interview, Ken Weinstein of the Hudson Institute reassures that Central Europeans should not be concerned about Trump’s rapprochement with Putin over their heads. He said that weeks before the US retaliation to the chemical attack in Syria that came as a surprise to Moscow.
The socio-economic interdependence between Germany and V4 remains one of the key topics to explore. In this issue, Hans Kundnani discovers a paradox that V4 is most efficient as an anti-German coalition while remaining deeply connected to German economy. At “Forum V4-Germany” (a joint project launched by the Aspen Institute Central Europe and Aspen Institute Germany) we will search for new ideas and explore how much is the dynamism of our relations inhibited by our inability to unleash the potential of cooperation among the young in Central Europe.
More in the next issue. Stay connected!
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