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The Visegrad Youth Forum 2020 was focused on most current issues within the Visegrad Group such as the response of the V4 states to COVID-19 pandemic and the potential of the V4+ format in the future mostly concerning the upcoming 30th anniversary of the creation of the Visegrad Group. The Visegrad Youth Forum 2020 was able to connect around 50 young academics interested in international relations and security policy despite difficult situation in regard to COVID-19 pandemic measures and managed to organize for the first time this event via online form.

The Visegrad Youth Forum is a project organized by the Euro-Atlantic Center in cooperation with the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations of Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica. The ninth edition of the Visegrad Youth Forum is organised by financial support from the NATO- Public Diplomacy Division, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, and the City of Banská Bystrica.

The Euro-Atlantic Center adapted Visegrad Youth Forum 2020 to current COVID-19 epidemiological measures, therefore the main phase of the VYF represented by the final conference consisting of a panel discussion, workshops and a simulation were held in online format via ZOOM Video Communications. This year’s panel discussion attended by 5 experts from all respective V4 states and Austria was titled V4 after 2020: Will the COVID-19 pandemic spell the end of the V4+ format?  Invited speakers were Martin Cimerman – Official, Central Europe Desk Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Slovak Republic, Pavlína Janebová – Deputy Research Director, Association for International Affairs, Czech Republic, Łukasz Ogrodnik – Analyst, The Polish Institute of International Affairs, Poland, Dániel Varga- Project Associate, Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy, Hungary, Daniel Martínek- Research Associate, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, Austria. The panel discussion was chaired by the Program Director of the Euro-Atlantic Center Alan Vagabov.

After panel discussion, program continued with workshops where the participants had the opportunity to discuss their opinions and propositions about current issues and future prospects of the potential enlargement of the V4 mainly focused on its presence and further development within NATO framework. The conference culminated in Friday with the full-day NATO summit simulation, which tackled the topic of strengthening the European security and defence structures regarding its position within the Alliance. Every participant, set in the role of the state representative of the NATO member was tasked to negotiate their demands in order to achieve a consensus, which was satisfactory for all involved parties by tackling the issue of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the Euro-Atlantic defence structure. The simulation once again provided participants a unique opportunity to improve their critical thinking, and diplomatic potential by testing their decision-making ability and putting them in various model situations.

Faculty of Political Science and International Relations, Matej Bel University (Press release, SK) https://www.fpvmv.umb.sk/konferencia/vysehradske-mladeznicke-forum-2020