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Polish President highlights Central Europe’s “civilizational role” in French op-ed

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Paris, France – Polish President Andrzej Duda has penned an op-ed in French newspaper L’Opinion, highlighting the shared history, dynamism and “bold aspirations” of Central Europe, described as a driving force of innovation and a land of opportunities in a chaotic world full of uncertainty.

Taking stock of the many hardships and challenges of this new decade, Andrzej Duda stressed that the upcoming years will also be a time of “hope and opportunities” to “build a better, more just and greener world more in line with the principles of sustainable development”.

The Polish President’s op-ed, published on January 22, went on to focus on Central Europe’s common values and shared history, as well as on the role it should play in that new era.

“Community of destiny”, “common circle of memory” or “community of aspirations”, Central Europe has achieved “a significant civilizational leap”, according to Duda, who argues that “maybe more than others, we [in Central Europe] know the price to pay” to defend the fundamental democratic values on which Europe and the EU have been built.

Highlighting Poland and Central Europe’s fundamental place at the heart of the Old Continent, and its commitment to democratic values upon which the bloc was built, Duda’s op-ed appeared designed to dismiss criticism of democratic backsliding and Euroscepticism.

His rhetoric is also reminiscent of Hungary, albeit in a less inflammatory and divisive tone, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other ruling politicians have regularly branded Central Europe as the flag-bearer of Europe’s civilizational mission and guardian of the continent’s future, in opposition to a presumably “decadent” West.

“Central Europe is an excellent example of freedom’s creative force, combined, in the economic sector, with the spirit of entrepreneurship and self-management”, Duda writes, adding: “Poland and Central Europe are a fascinating proof of the opportunities enabled by freedom.”

According to Poland’s head of state, reelected last year for a second term and close ally of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, three specific groupings will help Central European countries carve their place in Europe and the world: the Visegrad Group, the Group of 9 and the Three Seas Initiative.

“Such is today’s state and tomorrow’s vision of Central Europe, understood as a community of activism, success and bold aspirations,” Duda concludes. “The road was long, but crowned with success. From a region which, for a long time, nearly disappeared from the minds of the main actors of world politics […] to a region now among the world’s fastest-developing areas which aspires to become a beacon of civilization.”

The full opinion piece of Polish President Andrzej Duda is available here (in French).

Main photo credit: Jakub Szymczuk / KPRP

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