- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
What does a diplomat from a relatively small country that’s not on the brink of war or an international crisis do to attract attention from the U.S. president? If the diplomat comes from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, or Slovakia — the group known as the Visegrad 4 — the answer is, apparently, to hold a press conference.
Ambassadors from the four countries held a briefing on Wednesday to discuss the Visegrad 4, a group through which the Central European countries try to enhance their individual interests by working closely together.
“The V4 stands on the ground of common sense,” Hungarian Ambassador Laszlo Szabo said (Szabo replaces Ambassador Reka Szemerkenyi, who was recalled earlier this year after reportedly failing to convince her American counterparts that a law widely seen in the United States as targeting Central European University was in fact legitimate legislation).
But as Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmonicek conceded, most Americans don’t even know what Visegrad is, so is acting in concert actually proven useful?
“This is a challenge, actually,” Piotr Wilczek said. “There were some platforms of cooperation, like meetings of our foreign ministries in the Department of State.”
But that planned meeting never happened.
“With the Trump administration and the Department of State in transformation, transition, whatever,” he said, “it has been a challenge for the last nine months.”
The challenge apparently has been getting any attention from anyone in Washington.
“As you know better than I do, many things have been going on here, and, especially in August, I don’t know if anyone has the time to concentrate on Visegrad 4.”
Asked by a reporter from the Georgetown Dish what 25 words he would say to Trump over a cocktail, Wilczek noted he had already had the opportunity to meet with Trump for roughly ten minutes. Each had far more than 25 words. Trump’s included, “You know, 78 percent of Polish Americans voted for me. Poles are great.”
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