Ministers of defense of the Visegrad Four countries meeting outside Prague have agreed to propose the dispatching of an army contingent to the Baltic states in 2017. The proposal will be formally made at the Warsaw Summit of NATO countries in July. The Baltic states have called for a reinforced NATO presence in their countries. The contingent could be rotated between the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. Details are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks ahead of the summit.
Representatives of the Visegrad Four have sharply rejected a European Commission proposal on the redistribution of migrants across the EU. At their meeting in Prague on Wednesday the foreign ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland said the proposal, which includes penalties for not accepting migrants, was divisive and unacceptable.
Representatives of the Visegrad Four countries meeting in Prague have condemned a European Commission proposal aimed at fine tuning its system for sharing out immigrants. The new proposal includes cash penalties on countries which fail to take their share of the overall quota. Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said such a proposal dividing EU countries should not have been tabled. His Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto said the proposal was inadmissible and amounted to blackmail. Polish and Slovak ministers also criticized the proposal. The Visegrad ministers also attacked the Commission proposal to abolish Turkish visas, saying the country should not be given favourable treatment compared with others. Central European counties argue most immigrants don’t want to come to their states. The Commission says the latest proposed measures are about solidarity.
Foreign Ministers from the Visegrad Four, currently headed by the Czech Republic, met with their counterparts from the so-called Eastern Partnership in Prague on Wednesday. The ČTK agency said the aim is to discuss the future evolution of the grouping composed of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Some bilateral talks were already held on Tuesday. The meeting is also being attended by the European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn and diplomats from Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands. The Eastern Partnership countries are being offered closer economic and diplomatic ties with the EU but not membership of the economic and political bloc.The Visegrad ministers repeated strong support for the partnership and a woillingness to deepen it further.
Parliamentary representatives from the Visegrad Four countries - Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, attended a meeting at the Štiřín chateau outside Prague on Thursday. After the meeting they again criticised the idea of compulsory refugee quotas for European Union states. According to the Hungarian parliament leader, László Kövér, it is an attempt to federalise Europe, while the head of the Czech Parliament, Milan Štěch, said it was an excess, which will hopefully not be repeated in the future.
Czech and Polish cabinet members held a joint session in Warsaw on Friday. The meeting focused on defense and security issues, the migrant crisis, bilateral infrastructure projects and the agenda of a NATO summit due to be held in Warsaw in July. The eight-member Czech ministerial team is headed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. The tradition of holding joint cabinet sessions on matters of common interest once a year was established in 2011 and they alternately take place in Prague and Warsaw.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said he would like the countries of the Visegrad group states to negotiate a common stand to the EC’s asylum proposals unveiled this week. Mr. Sobotka said he would propose rejecting both a permanent system of redistribution of migrants and a more centralized asylum process within EU institutions which would detract powers from national governments. The Czech prime minister discussed the matter with his Polish counterpart Beata Szydlova during Friday’s joint cabinet session in Warsaw and said she fully backed this position. He is to bring up the issue at a meeting with the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico next week. As the country currently presiding over the Visegrad group the Czech Republic will also initiate consultations with Hungary on the matter.
The Visegrad Four regional grouping, currently headed by the Czech Republic, can help countries in the Western Balkans in the EU accession talks, Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Thursday. He was speaking at a meeting between the Visegrad Four, composed of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, and Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. Zaorálek proposed a forum be created for regular meetings between the two groupings.
A two-day summit chaired by European Council President Donald Tusk began in Brussels on Thursday, with European leaders embarking on a fresh round of negotiations with Turkey on a stalled plan designed to tackle the ongoing migrant crisis. In its recommendations to the Czech cabinet issued on the eve of the summit, the Senate called for a rejection of the current EU-Turkey agreement until a clear signal was sent to migrants that the days of an “open-door policy” were over.
Czech President Miloš Zeman and Polish President Andrzej Duda presented each other with their countries’ highest state distinctions on Tuesday at Prague Castle for their contribution to the development of Czech-Polish relations. Mr Zeman presented his counterpart with the Order of the White Lion first class, and received the Polish Order of the White Eagle. Mr Duda arrived in Prague on Monday for a two-day official visit. Among the topics he discussed with President Zeman were cooperation between the countries of the Visegrad Four, transport, and the migration crisis. Mr Duda is also scheduled to meet the country’s Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and lay a wreath at the grave of former Czech president Václav Havel.
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