XV International Forum of the Aquileia Euroregion: “The Reawakening of Mitteleurope – Nostalgia for the Future”

On 18 October 2019, Ambassador-at-Large Iztok Mirošič attended the 15th Mitteleuropa Forum in Udine, titled 1989–2019: The Awakening of the Mitteleuropa. Nostalgia for the Future. In the panel ‘Mitteleuropa 1989–2019 between Past and Future’, he outlined the development and the social, political and economic transformation of Central Europe and Slovenia from the fall of the Berlin Wall to current activities within the EU and NATO membership. He devoted special attention to the division of the EU into East and West as a consequence of the financial and economic, and particularly migration, crises, depopulation of Central Europe and economic dependence on the German economy. The unequal costs of transition and sentiments of injustice have given rise to growing populism and economic nationalism, and they have jeopardised the rule of law. Insufficient value integration also affects the positions of western EU Member States on continued enlargement to the Western Balkans. Furthermore, the visions of the future development of the EU differ in the East and the West, and development in the direction of diversified integration cannot be ruled out. The EU should design a review mechanism for all its Member States and provide incentives to enhance the rule of law. The EU has made possible economic progress for Central European countries, and the region has become attractive for third countries, such as China (the 17+1 Initiative) and the United States (the Three Seas Initiative). Despite some shortcomings mentioned above, the EU membership of Central European countries has fostered closer political dialogue between neighbouring countries and respect for national minorities. Slovenia and Italy can serve as an example of good neighbourly relations and a European model of coexistence.