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Prince Hassan draws parallels between WANA, Visegrad Four

By Rand Dalgamouni - May 04,2014 - Last updated at May 04,2014

AMMAN — Countries of the West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region have much to learn from the experience of the European Visegrad Group, HRH Prince Hassan said on Sunday.

The transitions that Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic underwent in the 20th century “taught us essential lessons about democracy”, Prince Hassan said at a conference organised by the Polish embassy and Al Rai Centre for Studies.

Titled “Visegrad Group: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary — Jordan: Successful Beneficiaries of NATO and EU Heritage”, the one-day event featured speakers from the four European countries who focused on political, military and economic aspects when discussing the evolution of their nations’ collaboration with NATO, the EU and Jordan.

Member states, also known as the Visegrad Four, work together in fields of common interest, drawing from their shared culture and history.

Highlighting how far the four countries have come, Prince Hassan noted that the Visegrad Group collectively accounts for “Europe’s fifth largest economy”, with countries such as the Czech Republic being among the world’s 30 most developed countries.

The group was formed in 1991 with the goal of eliminating the remnants of the communist bloc in Central Europe, overcoming “historic animosities” between Central European countries and the belief that through joint efforts it will be easier to achieve the set goals, according to the group’s website.

The parallels between WANA and these countries, which all joined the EU 10 years ago, are “valid and valuable”, the prince added.

“Transition can only be judged to be successful when the benefits of democracy are shared by all,” Prince Hassan told an audience of Jordanian and European diplomats, researchers and military officers, stressing that WANA countries should work together towards the advancement of their peoples.

Piotr Puchta, director of the department of Africa and the Middle East at the Polish foreign ministry, said Poland and Jordan do not share the same climate, history or neighbourhood, but both have the aspect of human behaviour in common.

“Fundamental change in the political life of a country has to be followed by equally fundamental change in economic life,” he said, noting that the Visegrad Four are open to describing successes as well as failures to ensure that Jordan benefits from their experience.

“We don’t want this exchange to be a one-way street,” Puchta stressed.

Ambassadors of the four Visegrad countries, the EU and the US, in addition to Trade Minister Mohammad Halawani, also participated in Sunday’s one-day event, which was the fifth annual conference organised by the Polish embassy.

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