22 July 2021
Commemorating three decades of the Visegrad Group format, Magda Vášáryová – former ambassador and State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia – reflects on the initial naivety of the dismissed Central Europeans in the 1990s, memories of the early twentieth century that haunted decision-makers but also progress as well as discarded opportunities in recent years.
After 30 years, we have quite understandably forgotten the strong feelings of euphoria that followed in the first few months after November 1989. There was a sense of joy because all the possibilities we had only dreamed of until then had suddenly opened up before us.
We were enchanted by the acquired freedom and shouted “Hello Europe”, assuming that Europe would welcome us and rejoice with us. And for a few months, it looked like that would be the case.
We naively forgot about the problems and conflicts that had arisen among ourselves after the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy 70 years earlier, and for us in Slovakia, it was the end of 880 years of rule by the Kingdom of Hungary.