At their meeting in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, the prime ministers of the Visegrad Four countries agreed to continue cooperating within the grouping even as EU member states. The Visegrad group is a loose economic alliance of four Central European states - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. It was established thirteen years ago in an effort to strengthen regional contacts and fill the void which emerged after the collapse of the Soviet block. Some commentators say the alliance has become obsolete with the enlargement of the EU, but the prime ministers of the four states said today that maintaining the existing contacts would prove advantageous for all concerned and better enable them to defend their economic interests within the European Union.
The prime ministers of the Visegrad Four countries are due to meet at Komeriz castle in the east of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. It will be the first time the leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland have held formal talks since all four countries joined the European Union on May 1. A spokesman for the Czech government said the main issue at the meeting would be the future role of the regional grouping, 13 years after it was established. Some commentators say the alliance has become obsolete with the enlargement of the EU.
Former dissidents from the Visegrad Four countries have agreed at a meeting in Bratislava to continue working together, after the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary joined the EU last Saturday. Czechoslovakia's first foreign minister after the Velvet Revolution, Jiri Dienstbier, recalled how solidarity between former dissidents from the four countries had helped them during negotiations over the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the withdrawal of Soviet troops.
Members of the Visegrad Youth Confederation met in Prague on Monday to start a five-day discussion forum on cooperation of the Visegrad Group after European Union enlargement. A failure to adopt the European Constitution due to Poland's objections to its draft form showed that the Visegrad countries - Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary - will have their own, separate priorities in the EU, despite their common communist past. Until Friday, conference participants tackle the question how and whether the common Central European identity and roots can be stronger than differing economic and political interests after all four join the EU on May 1.
European Union leaders are gathering in Brussels for a summit dominated by three main issues: turning the EU into the world's most competitive economy, restarting the stalled talks on a European Constitution, and the fight against terrorism. Leaders of the 10 countries which join the EU on May 1st - the Czech Republic among them - are also attending the talks. Radio Prague's Alexis Rosenzweig is in Brussels; we spoke to him earlier.
Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Four - Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - met at Dobris Chateau outside Prague on Wednesday, ahead of the inter-governmental conference (or IGC) on the future of Europe. The Visegrad Four are part of a much larger group of countries unhappy with the terms of the draft EU constitution to be discussed at the IGC, which gets underway in Rome on Saturday. The Visegrad Four agreed on a number of key demands they want to table in Rome, chief among them being the "one country, one commissioner" principle.
Prime Ministers of the so-called "Visegrad Four" are meeting at a chateau outside Prague on Wednesday, for talks ahead of the inter-governmental conference (IGC) on the draft EU constitution. The V4 meeting, bringing together the premiers of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, is an attempt to co-ordinate the positions of the four Visegrad countries before the IGC gets underway in Rome. Rob Cameron reports.
Last week saw much anger and disappointment among the eastern European candidate countries for EU membership after French President Jacques Chirac harshly criticised their support of the United States' tough stance on Iraq. With EU expansion nearing amid deep divisions among NATO and EU members over the Iraqi crisis, Czech and Polish politicians met at the end of last week for talks. Here's Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz:
A vast section of Europe badly affected by Communist industrialisation is slowly beginning to heal from decades of environmental abuse, but faces new pressure in the era of globalisation. Well, that was the warning issued this weekend by a "sustainable development" conference in Prague, featuring representatives of governments, universities and non-profit groups from throughout Central Europe.
At the Czech Foreign Ministry on Monday journalists were introduced to a brand new Central European institution - the International Visegrad Fund. Named after the town in Hungary where it was established, the Visegrad Group has already been around for ten years, as a loose grouping of four Central European countries: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. But Visegrad has never really captured the public imagination, and that's one of the reasons why the new fund has now been set up. As reports, it aims to support regional cooperation
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