An Appeal from Central Europe

As human beings, we have a duty to show compassion and to provide refugees with assistance.

Visegrad Insight
18 September 2015

We are facing a humanitarian crisis on an enormous scale. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa are attempting to reach Europe in search of safety, hope, and the chance to lead a normal life. Not so long ago, we were the ones knocking on Europe’s door.

We must not deny them our help. Regrettably, there are many in our region who disagree. After 1989, there were doubts in the European Community regarding the capacity of Central European countries, from the Baltic States through Romania and Bulgaria, to integrate with the West, owing to our history, political traditions, and the state of our economies. Yet, our part of Europe has not been the principal cause of the threats to the Union in this difficult decade.

But this rift within a united Europe resurfaces  today. This time it has a moral dimension. It is true, we are not accountable for the instability and collapse of refugees’ home countries. We are not the ones who have turned them into states plagued by incessant fear, where people are at risk of violent death, and where human life is “solitary, poor, brutish, and short.” Unlike the former colonial and imperial powers that took in large numbers of immigrants after the Second World War, have little experience of co-existing with people of different cultures, from far-off lands.

Nonetheless, as human beings, we have a duty to show compassion and to provide them with assistance. This is also our duty as Europeans. The European community was founded on the principle of solidarity. Today we must not refuse to take joint responsibility for the Union, nor turn a blind eye to human suffering and the situation of countries most affected by the rising tide of migration.

In refusing to help, we deny the idea of European solidarity. Furthermore, we undermine the solidarity that other nations have shown towards our countries. That would erode the foundations on which, for the past 25 years, we have been building our security, our prospects for development and our hope of escaping the historical tribulations of war, foreign rule, and poverty.

In the name of our humanity, our principles and values, we call upon the authorities and people of our region to demonstrate practical solidarity towards refugees so that they may find safe haven in our midst and enjoy freedom to choose their own future.

  1. Bronisław Komorowski, president of Poland from 2010 to 2015
  2. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, president of Poland from 1995 to 2005
  3. Jerzy Baczyński, editor-in-chief of the „Polityka” weekly, Poland
  4. Gordon Bajnai, former prime minister, Hungary
  5. Zuzana Bargerova, lawyer, Human Rights League, Slovakia
  6. Martin Bútora, sociologist, adviser to the president, Slovakia
  7. Bogusław Chrabota, editor-in-chief of the „Rzeczpospolita” daily, Poland
  8. Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, former prime minister, Poland
  9. Liudas Dapkus, deputy editor-in-chief of the “Lietuvos rytas” daily, Lithuania
  10. Aleš Debeljak, poet and essayist, Slovenia
  11. Pavol Demeš, former minister of foreign affairs, Slovakia
  12. Tibor Dessewffy, president of DEMOS Hungary, Hungary
  13. Ivaylo Ditchev, professor of social science, writer, Bulgaria
  14. Magda Faltová, director, Association for Integration and Migration, Czech Republic
  15. Zsuzsa Ferge, professor of social science, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
  16. Władysław Frasyniuk, former dissident and member of parliament, Poland
  17. Rajko Grlić, director, Croatia
  18. Tomáš Halík, theologian and writer, Czech Republic
  19. Agnes Heller, philosopher, Hungary
  20. Agnieszka Holland, director, Poland
  21. Štefan Hríb, editor-in-chief, “.týždeň.” weekly, Slovakia
  22. Michal Hvorecký, writer, Slovakia
  23. Ivars Ījabs, political scientist, Latvia
  24. Josef Jařab, former senator, rector emeritus of Palacký University in Olomous, Czech Republic
  25. Leszek Jażdżewski, editor-in-chief of the „Liberté!” quarterly, Poland
  26. Jana Juráňová, writer, Slovakia
  27. Aleksander Kaczorowski, journalist and essayist, Poland
  28. Éva Karádi, editor-in chief of the „Magyar Lettre Internationale” quarterly, Hungary
  29. Dávid Korányi, former undersecretary of state, deputy director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, Hungary-United States
  30. János Kornai, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University and Corvinus
    University of Budapest, Hungary
  31. András Kováts, director, Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants, Hungary
  32. Andrius Kubilius, former prime minister, Lithuania
  33. Jarosław Kuisz, editor-in-chief of the “Kultura Liberalna” internet weekly, Poland
  34. Ewa Kulik-Bielińska, director of the Stefan Batory Foundation, chairman of the European Foundation Centre
  35. Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of the „Gazeta Wyborcza” daily, Poland
  36. Piotr Mucharski, editor-in-chief of the “Tygodnik Powszechny” weekly, Poland
  37. Alvydas Nikžentaitis, president of Lithuanian National Historians Committee, Lithuania
  38. Zbigniew Nosowski, editor-in-chief of the „Więź” monthly , Poland
  39. Andrzej Olechowski, former finance minister and minister of foreign affairs, Poland
  40. Jurica Pavičić, writer, Croatia
  41. Márta Pardavi, co-chair, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungary
  42. Solomon Passy, former minister of foreign affairs, Bulgaria
  43. Adam Pomorski, president of the Polish PEN Club, Poland
  44. Wojciech Przybylski, editor-in-chief “Respublica Nowa” and “Eurozine”, Austria-Poland
  45. Zoran Pusić, president of Civic Committee for Human Rights, Croatia
  46. Rein Raud, author and cultural theorist, Estonia
  47. Adam Daniel Rotfeld, former minister of foreign affairs, Poland
  48. Martin Rozumek, director, Organization for Aid to Refugees, Czech Republic
  49. Andrzej Seweryn, theatre actor and director, Poland
  50. Martin Milan Šimečka, writer, journalist, Slovakia-Czech Republic
  51. Marta Šimečková, journalist, interpreter, Slovakia
  52. Karel Schwarzenberg, former minister of foreign affairs, Czech Republic
  53. Ladislav Snopko, playwright, former minister of culture, Slovakia
  54. Małgorzata Szczęśniak, set designer, Poland
  55. Erik Tabery, editor-in-chief of the „Respekt” weekly, Czech Republic
  56. Béla Tarr, director, Hungary
  57. Stefan Tafrov, diplomat, human rights activist, Bulgaria
  58. Vesna Teršelič, direktore documenta – centrs, kas nodarbojas ar pagātni, Slovēnijā
  59. Róża von Thun und Hohenstein, member of European Parliament, Poland
  60. Dubravka Ugrešić, poet and essayist, Croatia
  61. Rimvydas Valatka, journalist, former member of parliament, Lithuania
  62. Magdaléna Vášáryová, member of parliament, Slovakia
  63. Tomas Venclova, poet, Lithuania
  64. Krzysztof Warlikowski, theatre director, Poland
  65. Jakub Wygnański, chairman of the board, Unit for Social Innovation and Research – Shipyard, Poland
  66. Péter Zilahy, writer, Hungary
  67. Andrzej Zoll, former president of the Constitutional Tribunal, Poland
  68. Mirosław Bałka, sculptor, Poland
  69. Zygmunt Bauman, sociologist, University of Leeds, Poland-Great Britain
  70. Igor Blaževič, founder of One World Festival
  71. Uldis Bērziņš, poet and interpreter, Latvia
  72. Henryka Bochniarz, president of Konfederacja Lewiatan, Poland
  73. Michał Boni, member of European Parliament, former minister of administration and digitalization, Poland
  74. Marek Borowski, senator, former finance minister, vice prime minister and Marshal of the Sejm
  75. Bogdan Borusewicz, marshall of the Senate, Poland
  76. István Gyarmati, diplomat, Hungary
  77. Jerzy Jedlicki, historian of ideas, former dissident, Poland
  78. Dominika Kozłowska, editor-in-chief of the „Znak” monthly, Poland
  79. Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Bulgaria
  80. Marcin Król, historian of ideas, University of Warsaw, Poland
  81. Tomasz Lis, editor-in-chief of the „Newsweek Polska” weekly, Poland
  82. Ondřej Liška, former minister of education, chairman of the Green Party, Czech Republic
  83. Ewa Łętowska, former ombudsman, Poland
  84. Vita Matiss, political analyst, essayist, Latvia
  85. Jiří Menzel, director, Czech Republic
  86. Jan Němec, writer, chairman of Czech Writers Association, Czech Republic
  87. Janina Ochojska, president of Polish Humanitarian Action, Poland
  88. Jiří Pehe, political scientist and writer, Czech Republic
  89. Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director Equal Rights Trust, Bulgaria
  90. Petr Pithart, former prime minister, Czech Republic
  91. László Rajk jr., architect, designer and political activist, Hungary
  92. Pauls Raudseps, journalist, „Diena” daily, Latvia
  93. Sławomir Sierakowski, director of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Poland
  94. Aleksander Smolar, chairman of the Stefan Batory Foundation, Poland
  95. Andrzej Stasiuk, writer, Poland
  96. Petruška Šustrová, former dissident, Czech Republic
  97. Jerzy Szacki, sociologist, University of Warsaw, Poland
  98. Monika Sznajderman, editor, Wydawnictwo Czarne, Poland
  99. Soňa Szomolányi, political scientist and sociologist, Slovakia
  100. Adam Zagajewski, poet and essayist, University of Chicago, Poland-United States