Let's talk about some system errors in the Russian public diplomacy in the region, which in Your opinion could be corrected.
The first and main error (not only in the region but in the entire European direction) is the conviction that all decisions are taken in Germany, France, Italy. For old times' sake, Austria and Finland receive some attention, too. But the political classes of other countries are thus overlooked. For some reason, we tend to believe that nothing depends on the other countries, while Americans, to say nothing of Germans, do not hesitate to work with these countries' elites.
The functional structure of the European Union employs the Double Majority formula. Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands cannot take all the decisions, they need to have the support of the countries that we believe to be less influential. It is crucial to show respect for every country.
It would be utterly wrong to say that, for example, the Czech Republic is not an influential country on which nothing depends. Now the Czech Republic is turning into a Slav 'pole' alternative to Russia and integrated into the Western space. It is a country with a turnover in weapons trade exceeding a billion dollars, a country exporting locomotives and machines to China. It has accepted the values dimension in its foreign policy and actively promotes it not only in the post-Soviet space and the Balkans. In fact, the Czech foreign policy is the most multi-direction among the former socialist countries, leaving even the Polish foreign policy behind, regardless of the countries' sizes. The Czech Republic is, therefore, a country of the third or even second "row of influence" (like the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden). It has the tradition of sovereignty, its own interests, and ideas of its place in Europe. The country is related to us in terms of language but very different in all other terms.
What is more, we do not show the proper respect to Poland – a large country, once an empire, a country with developed science and culture (these aspects can be referred to the Czech Republic, too). Few US partners try to use their strengths in their own interests, but Poland does. The competition is uneven, but the fact remains. Respect, attention, putting emphasis on the advantages of the Polish culture and even the Polish state are the things we lack. I am not talking about an equal dialogue, but it is a country to be counted with.
I do not see such errors in our relations with Austria, but I would like to see closer cooperation via the Russian embassy, meaning more activity with the Austrian people.
In the case of Slovenia, we simply do not quite understand who we are dealing with. We should switch on our curiosity! Let them open up and talk about themselves, their small country with beautiful nature, where on the territory equal to half the territory of the Moscow region they have mountains, plains, and the sea. We should let them talk of themselves instead of construing some visions that have nothing to do with reality. It is a small country with big achievements, developed industry, and tourism. Slovenia holds its proper place. We can refer to remote linguistic connection, but we should first of all express curiosity.
Hungary is now experiencing some opening-up and, seems to me, "indecision". We should remember that 12 years ago Orban claimed, "we do not want to turn into a Gazprom barrack". Hungarian love is fickle, we should be prepared for that. All opposition to Orban has gathered together, and the opposition does not view us with a friendly eye. In April of 2022, Hungary holds parliamentary elections, so we need to have a dialogue not only with the government but also with the opposition, with the Hungarian society, acquaint them with Russia. And we need to prepare specialists speaking Hungarian as the third foreign language, in addition to English and German.
Slovakia and Slovenia need to be "discovered", with the help of tourism, among other things. Russians travel there. Slovakia and Slovenia should welcome Russian tourists, but they advertise their countries less actively to us than, for example, the Czech Republic.