Your Eminence, Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,

allow me to open the morning session of the conference titled "Saint Adalbert and Central Europe". My name is Petr Drulák and I will be your guide this Saturday morning.

Our debate is actually very longstanding, I would say. We attempt to answer the question about the relationship between international integration and self-identity. This is not a new question, even if it might seem to have emerged in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. With growing globalisation and integration, states and nations are striving to find some kind of compromise or a solution for coexistence, interconnection between the regional, the continental and the global, which is indispensable, and independence, identity and autonomy, which is also necessary.

Maybe some fifteen or twenty years ago, we probably thought that this question was resolved once for all by our joining the European Union and NATO. And there is no doubt that our joining provided an answer. It is an answer that has proved effective in many respects, but, on the other hand, it is also an answer that is not entirely satisfactory. And by joining the EU and NATO, the aforementioned question has not been definitively answered either. Because it is a question that cuts across history and it is here now.

Our ancestors asked themselves the same question in a completely different context a thousand years ago. And we turn to Saint Adalbert to whom we have dedicated this conference to seek and find an answer. Adalbert of Slavník, Bishop of Prague, Czech, Central European, European. He was an extraordinary figure of his epoch who needs no further introduction. It is of particular interest to us that St. Adalbert was in contact with both the clergy and the power elites of his day. Both the Pope and the Emperor in Rome had the door open for him.

What we can take from the legacy of St. Adalbert for the purposes of this conference and our reflections is the fact that his influence on the emperor and the leaders of the Holy Roman Empire helped to instil the idea that the relationship between the Central European space and the Western European space, which the Holy Roman Empire represented for us in Central Europe at that time, would not be a relationship based on centralisation, incorporation and uniformity, but on independence of national kingdoms.

Autonomous states emerged in Central Europe and the broader Central European region, and these states then participated in Central European and European politics. The model of autonomous kingdoms sometimes worked and sometimes it did not. Many of them perished for centuries. Like ours. Poles also have a very turbulent history. They were gaining and losing their statehood. This is one of the traits of the Central European space. But the model remains as a standard to which we relate and define ourselves. And it is actually still relevant and shapes our autonomy, Central European autonomy, which at the same time built on contacts with Europe and the world.

It is in this context that we are going to ask questions about the future of Central European cooperation. We are going to ask questions primarily from three perspectives at this conference. From a geopolitical perspective, from a value perspective and from an economic perspective. These three perspectives also correspond to the three working groups that await us this afternoon, where we will discuss and elaborate on the idea of Central European cooperation.

These three perspectives, although we will discuss them in three separate working groups, are of course interconnected because the geopolitical perspective includes the perspectives of space, security, and strategic relations. It is a perspective that is in a way the most visible because it can be pointed out as a place on the map. We can show Central Europe on a map even though we might argue about where precisely it starts and ends.

Nevertheless, the geopolitical perspective would of course be completely void if it was not built on values, because values serve as the glue that holds the idea of Central Europeanism together. And I think that a significant part of our panel discussion today is going to be about values.

However, we should not forget the third pillar, the economic pillar, because neither the strategic space, nor the values can exist in a vacuum without practical cooperation. If the values are the conceptual and spiritual glue, then the economy, the infrastructure is the practical glue, without which, of course, no project of Central European cooperation has any chance to succeed.