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The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 3, 2008
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ECONOMIC FORUM IN KRYNICA 10-13 September, 2008
September 3, 2008   
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Central Europe will be a special focus of interest at this year's forum. The forum's motto is "European Dilemmas. Central Europe: An Active Partner or a Passive Spectator?"

But to really talk about the problems of this part of Europe, we would first have to answer the question of what Central Europe actually is. It's not a country; it's a culture or a destiny, and its borders can only be imagined, as Milan Kundera wrote in his memorable essay The Kidnapped West, or the Tragedy of Central Europe. Kundera sees Central Europe as a condensed version of Europe with all its cultural diversity. Central Europe is usually taken to mean the Alpine countries and the Visegrad Group, though people often limit the region to the Visegrad Group countries alone. The Hungarians, for example, use the term Central Europe more often, while the Poles refer to Central and Eastern Europe. Some people even say there's no such thing as Central Europe, that it's pure imagination, that there's only Eastern and Western Europe. Nevertheless it's worth noting that today the countries of Central Europe seldom play on the same side. All the countries in the region have their separate, often mutually exclusive interests, and they form alliances with those EU countries that suit them best at a given moment.

Fueled by EU assistance funds and direct investment, the region's countries are becoming big construction sites-both literally and metaphorically. Investors are not even put off by budget deficit problems or inflation. Meanwhile, I have the impression that the voice of Central Europe is barely audible in the EU.

The Krynica economic forum is an important platform between East and West. Krynica is a European voice in the debate on the affairs of Europe and the world. It is a meeting place, an important spot on the political and economic map, probably the only place where East meets West in such great numbers: EU commissioners, government officials, parliamentarians, businesspeople, experts, and journalists. It is here that we meet, talk, confront views, get to know our partners in order to be able to cooperate later on.

The topics at the forum always reflect past and present political, economic and social events and their predicted consequences. The debates at the forum cover almost all topics, even the toughest issues. Everybody takes part in the discussions, including those who have very critical views. The more than 130 debates include issues such as the energy sector, international policy and security, management, the EU and its neighbors, and also society, science and culture. The forum offers an opportunity to solve the most complex problems. I look forward to seeing everyone during the heated discussions in Krynica.

Artur Negri, press spokesman of the Krynica Economic Forum
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