Earlier this week, from September 19-20th, ministers, national lawmakers, members of the European Parliament, academics, business leaders, public intellectuals, and journalists from across Central Europe convened in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava for the second Conservative Summit.
Against a tumultuous backdrop where national economies are faltering, long-held alliances are increasingly strained, and a deep sense of uncertainty fills the air, summit attendees—mainly from Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Czechia—gathered at the Historic National Council in Bratislava to discuss pressing topics, address critical challenges facing Europe and the region, and to promote cooperation and unity among Christian conservatives, whose values and way of life are under attack by globalist progressives.
Among the list of distinguished speakers were figures like Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga, Hungarian MP Balász Orbán, Slovak MEP Mariam Lexmann, editor-in-chief of the European Conservative Alvino-Mario Fantini, as well as several former ministers, professors, think-tank officials, and prominent media personalities from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, and Slovenia.
The Ladislav Hanus Institute (ILH) and the Family Institute organized the conference in partnership with Slovak Ministry of Labour Social Affairs and Family; the Danube Institute; the European Conservative; the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM); and several other religious, political and media institutions from Central Europe.
In the first session of the morning, a panel discussion with Central European politicians, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga and Slovakian Justice Minister Milan Krajniak both called for greater cooperation between conservative governments, and stated that the European Union’s unanimity rule, which requires all Member States to agree on a given proposal before it’s adopted, must be kept in place.
“The diversity of European nations, the different interests of different countries, must be at least as valuable as unity,” Varga said, adding that “the progressives are forging ahead like a steam roller, trampling upon whatever lies ahead… aiming to eradicate national character, questioning sovereignty, and the traditional social order.” Meanwhile,
national conservatives have failed to expand [their influence] globally, allowing the progressive opinion to dominate the discourse on the Continent.
Europe cannot exist without nations; nations provide its foundation, and only strong nations can form a strong Europe. The solution is not to reduce the powers of the Member States, but to make cooperation between the nations of Europe even closer, more respectful, and more affected.
“For us conservatives,” Varga continued, “our primary tasks are to protect natural communities such as family, historic churches, the nation, and regional cooperation.”
Central European Intellectuals
The second panel discussion was led by Jaroslav Daniška from the Slovakian daily newspaper Štandard Panelists—Polish political science professor Marek Cichocki, Czech political science professor Peter Drulák, MP Balázs Orbán, and former Slovak Interior Minister Vladimír Palko—addressed the Russo-Ukrainian War and how it has affected the Visegrád group.
All four panelists, despite stating that their respective governments’ positions on the war would unlikely be changing, agreed that Europe is not gaining anything from this war and noted that America, China, and Russia were benefitting. They also agreed that the countries of Central Europe must quickly come to the realization that their interests are quite different from the interests of surrounding power centers.
Orbán argued that the danger and chaos caused by the war in Ukraine had resulted in the emergence of northern, southern, western, and eastern blocs within the European Union. In order to survive the coming hardships, Central European countries must forge stronger bonds with one another, he said, adding that building a strong, strategic community is more important than agreement on tactical points. Finally, Orbán noted that because of its unique geographical interests, shared culture, and political history, Central European countries are well positioned to forge stronger bonds with one another.
Czech political science professor Peter Drulák and former Slovak interior minister Vladimír Palko both suggested that Central Europe assume a kind of ‘third position’ on the Russo-Ukrainian War: supporting the Ukrainian people while criticizing Russia and the U.S./UK for initiating and fanning the flames of war, respectively.
Polish professor Marek Cichocki, for his part, took a completely different tone and slammed European and American conservatives who have suggested the West negotiate with Russia to bring the war to an end.
The pan-European panel which fell between the day’s final coffee break and the prime minister’s panel discussion featured speakers including Polish professor Maciej Szymanowski, who serves as the director of Waclaw Felczak Institute of Polish-Hungarian Cooperation; Slovak MEP Miriam Lexmann (EPP); Prof. Žiga Turk, Slovenia’s Former Minister for Growth and Minister for Education, Science, Culture and Sport; Alvino-Mario Fantini, the editor-in-chief of The European Conservative, and others.
Professor Žiga Turk, in his opening remarks, laid out his idea of what the European Union is and what it is not. “It is not an international organization,” he said, proclaiming that the 27-member state bloc cannot be “a nation-state democracy because there is no such thing as a European nation.” The distinguished professor, who previously served as a minister in former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša’s national conservative government, then proposed that European conservatives ought to be pursuing their own agenda—not simply blocking or opposing that which is offered by the globalist Left.
Turk called for the following:
- Removing all language in EU treaties that speaks of an “ever closer union”
- Preserving the common market
- Enlargement: accession of the Balkan countries and Ukraine and close collaboration with the United Kingdom should be made top priorities
- Strengthening defense cooperation agreements and establishing a new common security framework
- Uniting Europe through its devotion to the preservation and advancement of Western and European civilization
Next, Alvino-Mario Fantini took to the podium where he railed against the European Union for using its member states as little more than instruments to achieve its own twisted ends, slammed the feckless conservatism of old—which he insisted hadn’t achieved anything anywhere—and laid out his vision for what conservatism in Europe ought to look like.
Fantini urged those in the room to embrace a “disruptive conservatism” that is rooted in Christianity and the sovereign nation—a kind of conservatism that presently is not recognized by the ruling elites, as it stands as a direct challenge to their authority.
Additionally, Fantini expressed deep concern that freedom of expression, one of the main tenets of the West’s formerly existing free and fair society, had effectively ceased to exist in many cases.
“There is suffering ahead,” he said. “But there is hope after—and as Christians, I think we can understand that.”
Prime Ministers’ Speeches
Finally, to conclude the daylong summit, the prime ministers of Slovakia and Poland, Eduard Heger and Mateusz Morawiecki, delivered speeches where they, among other things, sharply criticized Russia’s war against Ukraine, called for western countries to provide more aid to the Ukrainian war effort, expressed deep skepticism about the proposed changes to EU treaties, and emphasized the need for Christians to cooperate.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called for a real “conservative revolution.” We must “return to traditions, to normality, to traditional values,” he enjoined.