If the Visegrad Group wants to remain successful over the next 30 years, sticking together will be the secret to the group’s success, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after a meeting with his V4 counterparts in Krakow on Wednesday.
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia met European Council President Charles Michel on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Visegrad Group.
In response to a question from Hungarian public media, Orbán told a joint press conference with his V4 counterparts that loyalty and solidarity would be the key to the central European group’s ability to continue fulfilling its duty in the future.
Orbán said he believed Slovakia had a strategic role in the alliance, not just because of its geographical position, but also because it is Hungary’s only V4 neighbour. Slovakia is the country that links the northern and southern parts of central Europe, he said.
Orbán emphasised the importance of preserving the unity among the four countries.
Though the Visegrad Group may be marking 30 years of cooperation, he said, they were looking back hundreds of years to the first form of cooperation between the leaders of the central European countries. Orbán said it was this historical perspective that made the Visegrad cooperation as serious as it was.
Orbán noted that he had been a member of the parliament that approved the Visegrad cooperation 30 years ago. “Though there were serious problems to be dealt with at the time,” parliament had the time and strength to have one of its first votes be on strengthening central European cooperation, the prime minister added.
Orbán emphasised that central Europe was the fastest growing region of the European economy.
Concerning the issue of vaccines against coronavirus, Orbán said Hungary’s priority was to procure enough safe and effective jabs as quickly as possible, adding that procuring the vaccines quickly was more important than their cost.
He said the issue should be depoliticised, arguing that although there were “geopolitical disagreements and differences in history and taste” these should not be expressed through a debate on vaccines.
“There’s only one kind of vaccine: the kind which cures people quickly and effectively and to politicise this issue when people’s lives are at stake is irresponsible,” Orbán said.
He also said the central European countries were aware that there were countries significantly more powerful than them, but they also wanted to be competitive against those states. “And this is only possible if we get one step ahead of them,” he said. Therefore, Orbán said, he and his V4 colleagues had also touched on the matter of restarting their economies, adding that it was also important for them to share with each other their experiences with their political and economic measures.
Reopening the economy requires close consultations, as it is not automatic, but requires serious work on the government’s part, Orbán said.
He said the V4 were lucky to have two former finance ministers among the four prime ministers, whose experiences he said could be helpful when determining how to best go about rebooting the economy.
Orbán said he was grateful to European Council President Charles Michel for his participation in the V4 summit and his openness to and understanding of their positions. The cooperation among the Benelux states have always inspired the V4, he added.
Featured photo by Zoltán Fischer/PM’s Press Office