Culture is the driving force of Central European cooperation

Culture is the lifeblood of Central European cooperation and in the absence of culture politics and economies cannot succeed – Minister for Human
Resources Zoltán Balog said on Wednesday in Fertőd, western Hungary.

On behalf of Hungary, Minister Balog had been hosting Czech, Polish and Slovak representatives at the annual gathering of the Visegrád Four cultural policy
leaders in the Esterházy Palace in Fertőd on June 11-12. On the first day of the meeting, participants attended a concert of the National Philharmonics in
the palace’s Marionette Theatre.

In his opening speech Balog said that the future of Europe demands that in the 21st century the continent must again have a “specific centre”, where
nations – despite their language barriers – understand one another better than in any other region and they can formulate their common interests.

Balog said that despite common historical and political roots and similar economic interests, it was difficult to answer whether the region has a common
cultural identity.

He said the Fertőd meeting was a good opportunity to define those Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak national elements that could constitute the basis of
a common cultural identity. We must find what unites and what separates us, and also conduct a dialogue on the latter – the minister said. He said these
nations can only successfully represent their joint European interests through a common cultural language.

Balog said the Marionette Theatre was built for that purpose, later hosted opera performances, but in the 1950s, 60s and 70s was used as a stable. It was
restored to its concert hall purpose in 2013 and since it has also hosted a government session. It can take a long time to repair past mistakes, but 25
years after the regime change this has happened – he said.

After the concert, Balog told journalist that culture must be an integral part of the EU2020 strategy. He said poverty and disadvantaged status should not
prevent people’s access to culture and EU funds should also see to that.

Before the concert, the Visegrad Prize for preserving and safeguarding Central European spirituality was handed to the National
Philharmonics. The orchestra played the compositions of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Budapest, 13 June 2014

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