V4 continues to work for region’s security and welfare

The defense minister said the war in a neighboring country, which has hit the region harder than others, makes cooperation all the more important.

Defense Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said ministers signed an agreement on policing airspace under which Hungary, Poland and Czechia will cooperate to defend Slovak airspace until the end of 2024, adding that that the agreement was a sign that the Visegrad Group “is alive and well, and able and ready to continue working for the region’s security and welfare” at a time when many augur its demise. The war in a neighboring country, which has hit the region harder than others, makes cooperation all the more important, he said. On the first day of the meeting, a state secretary of Germany, an important ally, also joined the talks to review the most pressing defence issues, he said. Boosting defence capacities is in the joint interest of V4 member states, he said. They regularly consult on NATO’s measures to strengthen its eastern flank, a process in which the V4 has an important role, he said. Another important project “is the regular deployment of the V4 EU Battlegroup, which has been on standby in the first half of 2023 for the third time,” he said.

The ministers also discussed the impact of the war on regional security, and the group’s opportunities to support Ukraine. Minister Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that while Hungary was doing its utmost to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, the country, NATO and EU all had a vested interest in brokering peace. Hungary continues to refuse to provide lethal aid to Ukraine, he said. While the Visegrad countries have differing views on the road to peace, “dialogue and cooperation are ongoing on pragmatic policy issues”, he said. Czechia will take over the rotating presidency of the group on July 1. Meanwhile, the defence ministry said it is moving “organisational units of its leadership” to the former building of the Military History Museum in the Castle District. Its statement noted that the first independent defence ministry, set up in 1867, had been placed in the Castle, “an iconic site of Hungarian history, culture, and politics”. The collections of the Military History Museum will be moved to the Bálna building on the Pest side as well as to Székesfehérvár, in central Hungary, while the military history archives will stay in the same building with the ministry, the statement said.