- 23 Nov 2023 5:22 AM
- Hungary Matters
The cooperation among the Visegrád countries has a history of 700 years, and Czechia, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia aim to keep that cooperation and “add new content to it”, Katalin Novák said.
The issue in focus of the meeting was security, said Novák, adding that the Visegrád Group “form a safe island in the heart of Europe” in that respect and they view this “as a treasure” which they want to safeguard in the long term.
Novák said the Visegrád countries’ presidents deemed highly important the protection of EU and its external Schengen borders, effective measures against mass illegal migration and protection against terrorist acts. Concerning the war in Ukraine, Novák said that the common position of the V4 was that Russia must not win the war.
“We stand behind Ukraine and we are trying to provide maximum assistance for it to have the opportunity to protect its country and its people in the war,” she said. Novák said the situation of minorities in Ukraine could not be “subject to negotiation”, and asked her counterparts to pay increased attention to the issue.
Commenting on the “brutal terrorist attack” against Israel, Novák said the four presidents were in agreement on the need to pre-empt an escalation of the conflict and minimise the civilian death toll. She repeated the call on Hamas to release the hostages and welcomed the agreement on a ceasefire and the freeing of hostages.
Novák underscored Hungary’s univocal support for ensuring the security of the members of its Jewish community, vowing that the country would continue to guarantee that in the future.
The Hungarian president said they had also discussed ways to speed up transport among the four countries, cut dependence on Russian energy supplies and switch to the use of green-energy.
The V4 presidents were in agreement that nuclear energy should be maintained as “a clean energy resource” in future. Speaking about Europe’s competitiveness, Novák said that without turning around “the negative demographic trends” the chance to maintain and bolster competitiveness was slim.
The president said she had proposed doubling the Visegrád Fund’s annual budget of 10 million euros which would allow providing increased support to programmes aimed at strengthening cooperation among the Visegrád countries and potentially supporting countries outside the group.
Novák noted Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency in the second half of 2024 and Poland’s V4 presidency starting also in next July, expressing hope for the two countries to be “serious allies” during that period.
Asked about funding withheld by Brussels, Novák said it would give cause for concern if unfreezing the funding was “merely a matter of politics” and depended solely on whether “the government of the country in question was liked or not by Brussels”.
She insisted that although Hungary had met all the criteria set by the European Commission for releasing the funds, it had not received funds it is entitled to.
“This undermines the trust of citizens in the European Union, not only in Hungary, but also in many other EU member states.”