After the recent Austrian parliamentary election, the prospect of the country joining the Visegrád Group, consisting of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, has been discussed more than ever before. The joint past shared by these countries, their geographical proximity, the obvious avoidance of some Austrian politicians to publicly criticise the Hungarian government, and the announcement of a more restrictive migration and asylum policy play into these considerations.
Undoubtedly, national and thematic alliances within the EU do make sense. However, whether a possible membership in the Visegrád Group will be in Austria´s national interest and ultimately strengthen its political influence is highly questionable. In the debate about Europe, Vienna will likely still be inspired by Berlin and Paris rather than by Warsaw and Budapest.
To read more about the prospect of Austria joining the V4, click HERE
We are honoured to announce that this year’s edition of the Visegrad Youth Forum is supported by the International Visegrad Fund!
Stay tuned for more announcements!
The European Commission president met the leaders of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – all critical of his plan for ever closer integration. Juncker posed for a rather awkward picture with the four leaders before heading off for what was described as a “working dinner”. It marked the first time he had met Bohuslav Sobotka, Viktor Orban, Beata Szydlo and Robert Fico at the commission headquarters. And the meeting was seen as a crucial effort to try to appease the quartet following months of angry rhetoric. The group discussed issues of migration, defence, the EU budget and the much criticised Schengen passport-free area. Juncker tweeted afterwards: “I hosted a working dinner with the #V4 @EU_Commission.”
“On the menu: consensus through #compromise and #cooperation. #unity #FutureOfEurope.” He had invited the group in a letter earlier this month, stressing the “paramount importance” of “a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe”, strained by disputes over immigration and other issues as well as by Brexit. Furthermore, Juncker wrote: “I believe that preserving the unity of the 27 in this process is of paramount importance.”
To read more about the meeting, click HERE
On Wednesday, the annual meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group and the Western Balkans took place in Budapest. The V4 Ministers reiterated their continued interest in and support for the Western Balkan region on its EU accession path, as well as their support for those countries in the Western Balkans that aim to achieve Euro-Atlantic integration.
You can read the official joint statement of the V4 Foreign Ministers HERE
Are you a student of international relations, security policy, political science or journalism? Are you from one of the V4 member countries or Baltic states and interested in topics like defense cooperation, regional cooperation, or the V4 and NATO in general? Do you want to experience what it’s like to be a real policy maker and help create real policy recommendations? Then we’re looking just for you! Sign up for the Visegrad Forum 2017, a unique project which brings together young leaders and aims to create a platform, which will support an open and informal discussion about current topics!
The project consists of three stages, the first being the e-learning process, during which selected participants prepare for the VYF 2017 conference by studying provided material in order to familiarize with the topics of the conference. The conference itself is the second part of the project and will take place from December 6 until December 8 at the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. The final conference consists of a panel discussion, workshops and a simulation in the Centre for crisis management at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations of the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica. The panel discussion will focus on the relationship between NATO members and non-member states.
The registration form for VYF 2017 is available HERE, with the registration deadline being September 24, 2017.
Click here to view and download the VYF 2017 Infopack
Vice President Mike Pence said the US stands with the Baltic nations against any threats from Russia as tensions continue to flare between the former Cold War foes. Pence made Estonia his first stop on a visit to eastern Europe during which he’ll also visit Georgia and Montenegro, where he’ll meet Balkan NATO members and aspirants. His trip follows recent Russian-Chinese naval exercises in the Baltic Sea and comes before planned Russian military drills in September that have in the past simulated an attack on the region.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine spooked the Baltics and triggered a rethink of NATO’s role in ex-communist Europe. Western troops were added in response in nations such as Estonia and Latvia, unwilling former Soviet republics with large Russian-speaking minorities. While recently backing NATO’s collective-security pledge, President Donald Trump has courted Russian President Vladimir Putin and raised doubts about the U.S.’s commitment to far-away allies. “No threat looms larger in the Baltic states than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east,” Pence said during his stay in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. “At this very moment, Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force, undermine democracy of sovereign nations and divide the free nations of Europe one against another.”
To read more about the US vice president’s visit to Estonia, click HERE
We are pleased to announce that this year’s edition of the Visegrad Youth Forum will be supported by the city of Banská Bystrica, where the event itself will take place once again.
Stay tuned for more announcements!
Seven Central European member states called on the European Union on Monday to accelerate the accession of Montenegro and Serbia to the bloc, saying a failure to integrate the western Balkans could pose a security threat to the whole region. Foreign ministers and deputy foreign ministers of the four Visegrad Group countries — Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic — as well as Austria, Slovenia and Croatia met in Budapest to discuss issues including migration and the situation in the western Balkans and Ukraine. “If we cannot speed up the European integration process (in the western Balkans) … we will have to face serious security challenges in the entire Central European region,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a news conference.
Szijjarto said the EU should accelerate its ongoing accession talks with Montenegro and Serbia and should open membership negotiations with the other countries in the western Balkans as well. Albania and Macedonia are EU candidate nations but have yet to start their accession talks, while Bosnia and Kosovo have yet to be granted candidacy status, though both hope to join the EU. The prospect of EU membership has for years been the main driver of reform in the Balkans after a decade of war and upheaval in the 1990s. But with Britain’s vote last year to leave the bloc, the rise of right-wing populism in many EU countries and debate over the future shape of the bloc, further enlargement has been placed firmly on the backburner.
You can read more by clicking HERE
Hungary, now presiding the Visegrád group, hosted a summit, which brought together the V4 and Egypt on July 4. Viktor Orbán said that the V4 views Egypt as a regional neighbor, while also thaking the Egyptian President for his efforts to stabilize the region’s integrity. Securing the south Mediterranean Sea, blocking migration routes and fighting terrorism are important tasks for the Egyptian authorities, making Egypt a key partner for Central European countries.
The Hungarian Prime Minister stressed that the work done by Egypt in regards to migration and the enforcement border control deserves gratitude from the European Union. The V4 and Egypt also agreed on having greater exchanges and bilateral investments. The V4 also expressed its wish to hold a new meeting of the EU-Egypt Association Council as soon as possible.
To read more about the meeting, click HERE
Source: Visegrad Post
Last Friday, Poland concluded its presidency of the Visegrad Group, which also includes Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The political initiatives presented during the presidency and the strengthening of regional solidarity helped confirm Poland’s active role in Central Europe, the Polish foreign ministry said in a statement. The Polish Presidency of the Visegrad Group (V4) showed European partners that the “Group is responsible, determined and actively involved in defending its regional interests”. “The Presidency helped confirm Poland’s high involvement and active participation in the Visegrad Group,” the ministry added, while also highlighting the efforts of Poland to focus on European issues during its presidency.
To read more, click HERE
Source: Radio Poland