The Visegrad Group - V4
The Visegrad Group - V4
The Visegrad Group (V4) is an informal grouping of four central European countries – the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Hungary and the Republic of Poland. It is a living and informal regional structure composed of four Member States of the EU and NATO that adhere to shared values and have a common history, culture and geographical situation. The V4 is a dynamic regional grouping of EU Member States, representing a platform for strengthening the coordination and consultation mechanism with a view to reaching common positions and opinions on topical issues of foreign and European policy, regional development, and economic and cultural cooperation.
In the wake of post-1989 changes, three central European countries decided to forge closer cooperation with the aim of “returning” to Europe. At a meeting of government representatives of Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary, convened in Bratislava as early as May 1990, the groundwork was laid for developing a project of trilateral cooperation between these countries. Subsequently, on 15 February 1991, Czechoslovakia’s President Václav Havel, Poland’s President Lech Walesa and Hungary’s Prime Minister József Antall signed the Visegrad Declaration in Visegrad, Hungary, thus laying the cornerstone for the Visegrad cooperation. The Declaration sets out the following objectives: to restore the sovereignty of the states, to do away with the vestiges of totalitarianism, to establish parliamentary democracies, to create modern market economies, and to achieve full participation in the European political, security, economic and legal system.
After the split of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and the creation of independent Slovak and Czech Republics in 1993, the trilateral Visegrad cooperation was transformed to a V4 format. The endeavours of the Visegrad Group received further boost in 1998. At the May 1999 summit held in Bratislava, the Prime Ministers of the V4 countries adopted two documents – “The Content of the Visegrad Cooperation” and “The Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Countries” – that provided for the deepening of cooperation in all areas of mutual interest and for mutual support in integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. The key objectives pursued by the Visegrad Group countries in the first decade were accomplished with their successful socio-economic transformation, the deepening of regional cooperation and with their EU and NATO integration. The Visegrad Group contributed to the strengthening of regional stability and to the deepening of European integration. In May 2004, the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad countries adopted the Kroměříž Declaration in which they emphasised the importance of the continued Visegrad cooperation in the new context following EU and NATO accessions, and defined new priorities for the V4 in the next stage of its development.
For more than 20 years, regional cooperation of the V4 has successfully developed in the intersectoral/interministerial field, e. g. in such areas as the economy, infrastructure, energy, cross-border cooperation, cultural exchanges and scholarships, coordination of foreign policy positions and pursuance of common interests within the EU and vis-à-vis third countries/regions. The coordination of V4 cooperation is carried out by the ministries of foreign affairs and by national Visegrad coordinators. The activities of the V4 are based on presidency programmes adopted by the Prime Ministers at Visegrad Group summits. During the Slovak V4 Presidency The Bratislava Declaration was adopted at the Summit of the V4 Prime Ministers on 15 February 2011 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Visegrad co-operation. The Declaration contains the previous results of the V4 and defines its main challenges for the future. The current presidency is held by the Republic of Poland (1 July 2012 – 30 June 2013).
For more information on the Visegrad Group see www.visegradgroup.eu.