Europe would be weaker and a less secure place without the Visegrad Group, the Hungarian foreign minister said at the Globsec security forum in Pozsony (Bratislava) on Thursday.
“Such a statement would probably have sounded arrogant a few years ago, but today it reflects reality,” Péter Szijjártó told a panel discussion on the future cooperation of the grouping comprising the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
“It is clear that central Europe is and will be Europe’s engine of growth,” Szijjártó said, adding that as a result of its rational economic policies, the region’s economic growth had “well outperformed” the average growth rate of the European Union.
The minister said it was worth noting that if the V4 countries had not opposed the implementation of mandatory migrant quotas as strongly as they had, Europe today would have “hundreds of thousands of more illegal immigrants”.
He also pointed out that the central European countries were keeping key issues like EU enlargement in the Western Balkans on the bloc’s agenda “which otherwise would’ve been forgotten”.
“We must reject all politically motivated claims and accusations that try to give the impression that we, central Europeans only reap the benefits of being members of the European Union without contributing anything to it.” Szijjártó said.
Concerning the debate on the next EU budget, the minister said the V4 rejected the view that they were only entitled to funding “out of the kindness of our western European friends”.
“That’s not how it works,” Szijjártó said. “We’re entitled to those funds because we, too contribute to the EU’s economic output and we fulfil the commitments we made when joining the bloc and as compensation we’re entitled to EU funding. We won’t accept any sort of procedure that would allocate funding to member states on the basis of subjective conditions. This is an objective issue in which there’s no need for any kind of political procedure that opens the door to blackmail.”
During his visit to Bratislava, Szijjártó also held talks with Andrej Dolezal, Slovakia’s minister of transport.
featured image via Lajos Soós/MTI