The new Visegrád of liberal cities
The mayors of Budapest, Warsaw, Prague and Bratislava signed a joint declaration on Monday that founds a "Pact of Free Cities". The signatories wrote in a joint letter published before the meeting in Budapest that the initiative is aimed at establishing bottom-up democracy instead of populist solutions. A clever move? The Czech press is at odds.
Revolt of the democratic spirit
Denik is delighted with the mayors' pact:
“Visegrád was born as the beautiful, pure child of the post-revolutionary enthusiasm for the new free, democratic and Western-oriented Central European countries. But this Visegrád is now in the hands of nationalists, anti-democrats, xenophobes, admirers of Putin and China, oligarchs and destroyers of the rule of law. As if someone had turned a beautiful castle into a brothel. ... The new alliance is a revolt against this form of Visegrád. It's a rebellion of forces that are trying to preserve, at least in the capitals, what Visegrád was created for. It reminds us that Visegrád is not the prime ministers or presidents of our four countries, but their citizens.”
A superfluous parallel universe
Lidové noviny is less enthusiastic about the pact:
“Not that there's anything wrong with cooperation between countries and cities that are close to each other and share historical ties. But things become more problematic when this creates parallel worlds. On the one hand between governments that are having a hard time managing their cities. And on the other hand between mayors who are at loggerheads with their governments. Apparently Hřib, Vallo, Trzaskowski and Karácsony feel like islands of liberal freedom surrounded by the sea of their governments' populism. But why are they only seeking confirmation among themselves? Wouldn't they be better off trying to solve their problems at home instead of building a cross-border parallel universe?”