A waning commitment to Euro-Atlantic institutions and vulnerabilities to Russian influence are revealed in a poll of residents in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia released today by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research:
The four countries surveyed were chosen because of their status as the “Visegrad Four (V4),” an alliance of young European Union members committed to increasing cooperation on shared interests. …While NATO and the U.S. presence in Europe have historically been cited as a key pillar of European peace and security, in Slovakia an alarming 60 percent of respondents feel that the U.S. presence increases tensions and insecurity. A majority of respondents in all four countries either strongly or somewhat support neutrality towards both NATO and Russia (Slovakia: 73 percent; Czech Republic: 61 percent; Hungary: 58 percent; Poland: 53 percent). Seventy-five percent of Slovaks believe that Russia should be a security partner, followed by 59 percent of Czechs, 54 percent of Hungarians, and 35 percent of Poles.
“This poll reveals a number of disturbing trends in the heart of Europe, including waning support for core transatlantic institutions like NATO, tensions over the nature of European identity, and discontent with socioeconomic challenges,” said Jan Surotchak, IRI Regional Director for Europe. “After investing twenty years and hundreds of millions of dollars in building a ‘Europe Whole and Free,’ it is vital that the U.S. recognize the threat of increased Russian influence in Europe, which has the potential to undermine a key pillar of transatlantic peace and security.”
IRI is a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy.