Czech Minister of foreign affairs Martin Stropnický has suggested that the
Visegrad Four regional grouping should present its own solutions to
European Union problems. He added that they should not just take a common
stand against policies.
Stropnický was speaking after meeting with his Hungarian counterpart in
Prague, Péter Szijjartó, on Thursday.
It was their first meeting since Stropnický took up his new post in government. Both ministers stressed the importance of the regional grouping which embraces the two countries as well as Poland and Slovakia.
Szijjartó thanked the Czech Republic for its support on migration. Hungary has refused to take immigrants under the EU’s proposals to share out most of those who fled their countries and are now mostly in Italy and Greece.
Hungary, which is currently chairing the V4 group, has also taken a stand against United Nations plans on migrants which the international body hopes will form the basis for a global compact.
The Hungarian minister was later due to meet with the Czech minister for labour and social affairs, minister of defence, and also outgoing prime minister Andrej Babiš.
Less than half of Czechs aged under 35 have a positive view of the European
Union, according to research published by the Bratislava-based Globsec
institute. The survey found that young Czechs were more sceptical regarding
the EU than their peers in the other Visegrad Four countries, Slovakia,
Poland and Hungary.
Some 43.8 percent of Czech 18- to 24-year-old survey respondents said they regarded the EU as a good thing. Among those aged 25 to 34 the figure was 41.3 percent.
If there were a referendum on whether to remain in the EU, just under half of young Czechs would vote for staying. A quarter of those surveyed said they would opt for leaving.
President Miloš Zeman’s first foreign trip will be to neighbouring
Slovakia where he intends to spend two days in the Tatra mountains, his
Zeman spoke with his Slovak counterpart Andrej Kiska after his election victory was announced on Saturday. Traditionally newly elected Czech politicians and heads of state head for Slovakia on their first trips abroad.
Kiska’s campaign to win the Slovak presidency had been taken as a model by Zeman’s opponent in the elections, Jiří Drahoš, of how a newcomer could overcome an established political figure.
Outgoing Czech prime minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš has opposed the
idea of a regional development bank covering the Visegrad four countries,
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Ahead of a meeting of the Central European grouping on Friday in Budapest, Babiš said the main task of the Czech government was to deal with Czech banks.
Hungary and Poland have been the main backers of a regional development bank on the grounds that European Union funds for such a purpose are likely to dry up in the future. The Budapest meeting was also scheduled to discuss migration policy ahead of an EU meeting in Brussels next month.
A meeting of the Visegrad Group in Budapest next week will focus on the
establishment of a Central European Development Bank, Hungarian Prime
Minister Viktor Orban told Hungarian public radio on Friday.
Mr. Orban praised China for its plans to invest in the region and stressed the need for Central European states not to be dependent on EU funds alone, but to look for sources outside the European Union. China’s financial conditions are better than those offered by the EU, Orban noted.
Andrej Babiš arrived in Bratislava on Friday for his first bilateral
foreign visit as prime minister. He was welcomed by his Slovak counterpart
Issues due to be discussed in their meeting were Czech and Slovak cooperation in the areas of transport, defense and security, and energy.
One issue which came to the fore at the press event afterwards was that of EU quotas and continuing opposition by the Czech Republic and other countries in the Visegrad 4 to the EU relocation of migrants. Mr Fico said that the migrant quotas “did not work” and had “divided Europe to an unbelievable extent”. Also to be discussed were important anniversaries the Czech Republic and Slovakia are commemorating this year, including the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.
After a working lunch and the joint press conference, the prime ministers were scheduled to lay wreaths at a statue of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and a monument to the co-founder of the Czechoslovakia, Milan Rastislav Štefánik.
Mr Babiš is being accompanied on the visit by Defense Minister Karla Šlechtová and Finance Minister Alena Schillerová.
The newly-elected Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, went to the EU summit in Brussels with two priorities uppermost in mind: defending the country’s anti-migrant stance and gaining more allies in the block. However neither his arguments nor a financial pledge of 220 million euros in aid of the migrant crisis helped him to avert the threat of legal action from Brussels.
Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak representatives have signed a four-year
project that aims to improve the conditions of thousands of small farmers
in Kenya and contribute to dealing with the causes of illegal migration.
The chief manager of the project, worth 14 million euros in total, is the state-run Slovak Agency for International Developmental Cooperation. The project should support 15,000 farmers on the coast of Kenya.
The Czech University of Life Sciences and the Czech branch of the Fairtrade organization will represent the Czech Republic in the project.