Aleksander Kaczorowski

    is a Polish writer and journalist, editor-in-chief of Aspen Review. He lives in Warsaw. The author of a biography of Bohumil Hrabal, Gra w życie (Playing at Life), he has published a collection of interviews Europa z płaskostopiem (Europe’s Flat Feet), a novel, Praskie łowy (Hunting in Prague) and collections of essays, Praski elementarz (The Prague Reader) and Ballada o kapciach (The Ballad of Slippers). In 2014 he published Zemsta bezsilnych (The Revenge of the Powerless), a biography of Václav Havel. “Ever since Henry Kissinger’s first visit to a free Poland, during which he kept getting it wrong and saying: ‘I’m pleased to be in Warsaw, which is in Eastern Europe, ehm, Central Europe is what I wanted to say’ nobody has dared question the fact that we are part of the West and of Europe. But it doesn’t necessarily have to stay that way. Central Europe might represent a vision, a dream, a myth or a nightmare. In order to avoid the nightmare, and not let ourselves be carried away by myths or to waste time daydreaming we have to meet five conditions. Firstly, we mustn’t assume the role of Germany’s helper in a new Mitteleuropa. Nobody needs that, the Germans included. Second, we have to realize that our goal is not some mythical Central European community but rather an effective regional interest grouping within the European Union. Third, in order to achieve that, we ought to make use of the Visegrad Group, of open cooperation with countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as of the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership community. Fourth, we have to realize that rather than satisfying the national selfishness of a group of nations, let alone a single nation, the strategic goal Central Europe needs to pursue is to preserve the character of the EU as a community and to strive for its transformation into a real political federation. And fifth, we must remember that Central Europe, however perceived, cannot replace the European Union. For it is the EU that is the real central European Union – the first historical chance for a voluntary, bloodless integration of all of Central Europe.”