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Jun 22, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

Hungarian Presidency of Visegrád Four: Our group serves as example of strength from strong nation states

“Over the past two years, the Visegrád Four,” said Prime Minister Orbán on Monday in Warsaw, “have succeeded in not only protecting Hungary, but also the southern border of Europe.”

“If the Visegrád Four had not joined forces,” the prime minister said, “hundreds of thousands of people would still be flowing into Europe without hindrance, thus further impairing the secure life of the continent’s people.”

Following a V4 summit held with the Benelux states on Monday, the Visegrád members had gathered for a ceremony in Warsaw’s Royal Castle where Poland passed the presidency to Hungary for a one-year period beginning July 2017.

In 1991, Hungary, Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia founded the Visegrád Group to advance the European integration of its members and promote military, economic and energy cooperation among them. Today, comprising a population of some 63 million and some of the continent’s strongest GDP growth, the V4 has become an important force in the most important issues confronting the European Union.

PM Orbán expressed his thanks to Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło for her country’s presidency of the V4, then turning to his fellow prime ministers, he praised the cooperation among the four countries that helped secure Europe’s external borders and bring the migration influx to a halt.

Central Europe has nothing to be ashamed of concerning its financial indicators, security, cultural life or the quality of its democracy, Prime Minister Orbán emphasized. The group should be proud of its millennial heritage and current achievements making it one of the most dynamically developing regions in the EU. There’s still work to be done, however, and promoting greater economic cooperation and raising the prominence of the V4 countries are among the four priorities set out for the Hungarian presidency, according to the prime minister.

The Visegrad countries take up issues important to their citizens, Prime Minister Szydło said. In response to the “cooperation deficit” that prevails today in Europe, PM Orbán added, the Visegrád Group serves as an example. To engage the EU on this, Hungary has set V4 diplomatic relations as another of the priorities for the presidency.

The Central European identity, its history and culture, which have challenged and rejuvenated the European Union must be preserved and passed onto the next generation. “Let us enable the younger generation to also experience what we call being Central European,” said PM Orbán, citing internship programs and scholarships for youth. “We will devote Hungary’s one-year presidency of the V4 to this goal”.

In the debate over the future of the European Union, the Visegrád Four serves as an outstanding example of the strength that is derived from cooperation among strong nation states. The Visegrád countries have a rich history to build on and a dynamic present that encourages us to face challenges shoulder-to-shoulder.