The prime ministers of the Višegrad Group countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, will meet in the coming days to discuss the migration crisis in Europe, the ctk news agency reports. The Višegrad Four are increasingly concerned about the flow of migrants via the so-called west Balkans route. The Czech Republic has repeatedly called for joint EU action in protecting its outer borders and has offered countries along the Balkans route technical and material assistance to better secure their borders. Slovakia now fears that due to tightened checks along the Austrian border people smugglers will attempt to transport more refugees across Slovak territory.
Prague on Wednesday took up the year-long presidency of the Visegrad 4, comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. At a press conference, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek outlined plans for two summits as well as increased cooperation in energy, security and defence. But some were surprised a more explicit reference wasn’t made to one of the top problems facing the European Union today: the migration crisis.
The Czech Republic on Wednesday takes over the year-long presidency of the Visegrad Four group, which also includes Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. Among Prague’s main priorities will be to boost the internal cohesion of the regional grouping, foster increased co-operation in energy, security and defence, and help develop the four states’ digital economies. The Czech Republic will host two Visesgrad summits during its presidency while next February the quartet’s foreign ministers will mark the 25th anniversary of the existence of the regional bloc.
The Višegrad Four countries, i.e. the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, are opposed to the idea of mandatory migrant resettlement quotas proposed by the EC, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday. The Czech head of government and representatives of the other Višegrad group states met on the sidelines of the Brussels summit of EU and the Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC) in order to coordinate their positions on the migration problem ahead of the end-June meeting of the European Council. They are to discuss the issue again at a meeting of the Višegrad group prime ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia on June 19.
The foreign ministers from the Visegrad 4 countries (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland) met on Friday in Slovakia to discuss and express support for closer cooperation between the EU and six post-Soviet countries under the Eastern Partnership project. At the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit, the V4 are set to discuss the liberalisation of visa policy. At Friday’s meeting, the foreign ministers expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, in the face of the annexation last year of Crimea by Russia. Ukraine has been participating in the Eastern Partnership, along with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova. Friday’s meeting was also attended by High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics, Foreign Minister of Romania Bogdan Aurescu and Foreign Minister of Sweden Margot Wallstrom.
Countries of the Visegrad Four, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, need closer cooperation in protecting their common airspace, the countries’ defence ministers agreed on Thursday at a meeting in Tomášov, near Bratislava. The prime ministers of the V4 countries are set to meet in June discuss the Common Sky project. The Slovak Defence Minister Martin Glvac said Slovakia and the Czech Republic have already agreed on the protection of their common airspace. According to Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnický, cooperation in air defence is crucial. The ministers also discussed a joint military force that should be operational by 2016.
The foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group states and Germany have stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to prevail in Ukraine. At the meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that while certain progress had been made in fulfilling the conditions of the Minsk peace deal there were still groups violating the ceasefire agreement. All parties involved must avoid actions which could result in a fresh escalation of violence, the German foreign minister stressed. The foreign ministers likewise discussed the EU’s Eastern partnership programme for six post-Soviet bloc countries including Ukraine. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek noted that in the light of the Ukraine developments this programme has acquired even greater significance.
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria met Thursday at Slavkov Castle, near Brno, for a round of talks designed to strengthen ties between the three nations. However, concerns have been expressed in some geo-political circles that the grouping may be an attempt to create an alternative to the Visegrad Group, comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. I spoke with Vít Beneš, research fellow at the Institute of International Relations, and began by asking him about the significance of the talks between Bohuslav
The Polish embassy in Prague has taken offence at a TV commercial for the mobile phone operator T-Mobile in which a Polish man is presented as a fraudster. The Polish ambassador, who says the clip harms relations between the two nations, has officially requested the operator pull the commercial, a move T-Mobile said it would consider.
The presidents of the Visegrad group countries said Russia’s annexation of Crimea last March was an aggression. The presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the Slovak capital on Sunday, marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism. The heads of state also agreed that the EU’s sanctions against Russia were necessary, according to Slovak President Andrej Kiska. The statements contradict Czech President Miloš Zeman’s earlier positions; at a conference organized by a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in September, Mr Zeman said the sanctions were ineffective and called for them to be lifted.