We have just concluded positive and honest talks. This in because shared historic success will always override present disputes. And here we have a historic success – and a sizeable one –because thirty years ago Germany was still divided in two, and Europe was also divided in two; but today both Germany and Europe are reunified. Indeed in my opinion, our meeting here today was between the European Union’s core states. One can argue over who – what countries – form the core of Europe. One can answer this question based on historic privilege, but I believe that the core of Europe is constituted by those countries which are outstanding in terms of their performance. And if we look at government debt, budget deficits, exports, unemployment rates, banking systems and structural reforms, then the core states of the European Union are present here today: today the V4 countries – particularly in cooperation with Germany – are the engine of Europe’s economic growth. Of course there are differences of opinion, but we all agree that we want a strong Europe, and that we want to work for this in the future.
Looking forward to the months ahead of us, we cannot know – or at least I don’t know – what the European Union will be like after the European Parliament elections in May. Of one thing, however, I am certain: it will not be the same as it has been up to now. The European Union will change, and the direction in which it will change will be decided by the citizens of Europe. The European Union’s character and its direction of progress – assuming we want a democratic European Union, and that is what we want – may only be decided by its citizens. One can argue about different kinds of democracy – liberal, illiberal, or indeed Christian – but there is no doubt that what cannot be left out of the formula for democracy is the demos. If we were to disregard the will of European citizens, we would not be building a European Union, but an empire, and we would find ourselves returned to our starting point of three decades ago; thirty years ago we rose up against being forced to follow orders issued from a centre of imperial power. We are glad that we have freed ourselves of all that, and we don’t want to return to it. Therefore I suggested – and I state it now – that we should postpone all major decisions that affect the future of Europe until after the elections to the European Parliament: until after the decision of the citizens of Europe. Following that we should continue the cooperation between the V4 and Germany – which, I repeat, is characterised by a positive intent, a positive orientation and an honest tone.
Thank you for the opportunity of attending this meeting.