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Foreign Ministers Hail Visegrad “Alliance” At Ambassadors’ Conference In Budapest

Tamás Székely 2016.08.30.

The Visegrad Four (V4) grouping of Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic is the tightest and most effective alliance in Europe, Hungary’s foreign minister said. The Visegrad Group is an alliance that is bold enough to “call a spade a spade” and speak frankly instead of being bound by the constraints of hypocritical and politically correct language, Péter Szijjártó told mission leaders at their yearly conference in Budapest.

The V4 is in the best state it can be in at just the right time, as the European Union is facing many serious challenges all at the same time, Szijjártó said. He said that in these turbulent times, the positions of the V4 hold more weight together than they would if its members were representing those opinions on their own. So the V4 alliance has become relevant in the debate on the EU’s future, he added. One of the secrets to the V4’s success is their member states’ respect for one another, he said. The alliance has brought about “historic peace” in central Europe, the minister said, adding that the four countries have never had a greater stake in each other’s success than they do now.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister has urged mission leaders to push for establishing the tightest possible V4 alliance in the countries they are posted in and do all they can to make sure that all foreign trade records are broken again in 2016. The tight V4 alliances are the greatest guarantees Hungary can have to meet its goals in the countries it has foreign missions in, he told ambassadors at their yearly conference. If such alliances exist, Hungary’s interests do not oppose those of the other V4 member states in those countries, he argued.

In the debate about the future of the EU, Péter Szijjártó said, Hungary’s ambassadors must represent the stance that security is the number one priority. The policy that encourages mass immigration should be ditched as the migrant crisis poses a threat and Hungary’s job is to protect itself. As the best answers to the challenges facing the EU have been given at member state level and not at an EU level, Hungary is against transferring more powers to Brussels, he said. Szijjártó said EU laws must be observed by all member states. Hungary does not accept the use of double standards nor does it accept that a member state can be criticised for keeping to the rules, he added.

The meeting was opened in the presence of the Polish, Czech and Slovak foreign ministers. Poland’s Witold Waszczykowski said central Europe expects to be taken seriously and considered as a partner by the rest of Europe. The minister also touched on Brexit and said that discussing the EU’s future should not be taboo. He said the NATO summit in Warsaw last month had strengthened European cooperation. Waszczykowski said Russia’s actions since 2014 had caused some cracks in the security system but expressed hope that Russia did not intend to undermine NATO’s credibility. He underlined the need for the V4 to contribute to the security of Europe and the region through defence cooperation and joint military exercises.

Lubomír Zaorálek, the Czech foreign minister, said the European Commission should be unbiased and trustworthy and should represent unity. But this is not the case at the moment, he added. Europe’s job is to rebuild its unity, he said. The most important task right now is to ensure the stability of the European project after Brexit. Britain’s decision to leave the EU should be taken as a sign of impending radical institutional change, he said. Zaorálek said the V4 was useful for helping its four member states enforce their interests, especially regarding the migration crisis.

Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák said the EU had two options: either it acts according to the needs of the people or it sinks into permanent crisis. Europe cannot allow euroscepticism to gain more ground because the EU is the solution, not the problem, he said. Lajčák said Europe must be brought together and that the people need to be listened to. The minister underlined the importance of a sustainable migration and refugee policy within the framework of the Schengen system. Europe’s global engagement should also be strengthened, he said.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photo: Márton Kovács – kormany.hu