About the V4

V4 Presidents Summit | 2 – 3 October 2019 | Lány Chateau HISTORY OF THE V4CURRENT COOPERATION

The Visegrad Group was formed as a result of Central European countries’ efforts to cooperate in a number of areas in common interest within Pan-European integration. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have always been part of one civilisation sharing cultural and intellectual values and common roots of religious traditions, which they wish to preserve and strengthen further. All Visegrad Group (V4) countries strove for membership in the European Union. They regarded their integration in the EU as another step in the process of overcoming artificial dividing lines in Europe through mutual support.

They achieved this objective on 1 May 2004 when all of them became EU Member States.

The V4 was not established as an alternative to Pan-European integration efforts; neither does it strive to compete with the EU, NATO and other well-functioning regional cooperation formats. In no case do its activities aim at isolation or weakening of relations with other countries. On the contrary, the V4 endeavours to promote cooperation with all countries, especially the neighbouring ones, and is interested in democratic development of all parts of Europe.

The V4 wishes to contribute to building European security architecture based on efficient, functional, complementary and mutually strengthening cooperation and coordination between existing European and Transatlantic institutions.

The V4 Presidents Summit takes place regularly once a year and is always hosted by the country that currently presides over the V4.

History of the V4

The Declaration of Cooperation between the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, the Republic of Poland and Hungary on the path towards European integration was signed at a Presidents Summit of the President of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic Václav Havel, the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Walęsa and the Prime Minister of Hungary József Antall in Visegrad in Hungary on 15 February 1991. The document was the cornerstone of cooperation between the above three Central European countries (four after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia) that became to be known as the Visegrad Group.

However, after 1992 cooperation within the Visegrad Group ceased and was renewed only in October 1998, among other things thanks to the activity of Miloš Zeman who was Prime Minister of the Czech Republic at that time.

V4 Prime Ministers Summit, Hungary, May 1999. From the left: Viktor Orbán (HU), Jerzy Buzek (PL), [unknown], Mikuláš Dzurinda (SK), Miloš Zeman (CZ). This Summit followed up on the “restarting” Tripartite Summit in October of the previous year where the V4 activity was renewed and that marked a move from rhetoric to adopting a V4 practical cooperation agenda.
Photo: MTI/Soós Lajos

V4 Prime Ministers Summit, Slovakia, Tatranská Javorina, December 1999. From the left: Mikuláš Dzurinda (SK), Miloš Zeman (CZ), Viktor Orbán (HU), Jerzy Buzek (PL).
Photo: TASR

V4 Prime Ministers Summit, Slovakia, Tatranská Javorina, December 1999. From the left: Mikuláš Dzurinda (SK), Miloš Zeman (CZ), Viktor Orbán (HU), Jerzy Buzek (PL).
Photo: TASR

Prime Ministers of the V4 countries drink a toast after signing the Agreement Concerning the Establishment of the International Visegrad Fund. Czech Republic, Štiřín, 9 June 2000. From the left: Mikuláš Dzurinda (SK), Jerzy Buzek (PL), Viktor Orbán (HU), Miloš Zeman (CZ).
Photo: TASR

Current V4 cooperation

V4 potential following accession into the EU

V4 potential following accession into the EU
Before the V4 member countries acceded into the European Union, the Czech Presidency in cooperation with its counterparts drafted topics for further V4 cooperation, which were adopted at a Prime Ministers Summit in Kroměříž in 2004. The following Polish V4 Presidency after the accession into the EU dispelled fears concerning whether further cooperation of the Visegrad Group would make sense in new context of the EU, which has significantly enlarged after the accession. At present, joint positions of the V4 countries are coordinated prior to major EU negotiations. The V4 countries are close to one another not only geographically but also historically and culturally and are connected by similar interests and values. A significant role in strengthening mutual cooperation is also played by the International Visegrad Fund, established in June 2000, which provides financial support for projects especially in the field of science and research, cross-border cooperation, culture, education and youth exchange. The V4 EU Battlegroup with some 3,700 soldiers is active within the joint defence and security policy.

Visegrad cooperation is not institutionalised in any manner; in the political sphere it functions on the principle of regular meetings of representatives at various levels, from Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Affairs Ministers up to expert consultations. Once a year an official Prime Ministers Summit takes place and one of the V4 countries always holds the Presidency in the period between these summits. Individual Ministries of the V4 counties cooperate both at ministerial level and in the form of work pursued by joint expert groups. Individual Ministries organise meetings in the V4 format themselves depending on their current needs. The V4+ format when other countries are invited to take part in a given topic is an interesting expansion of cooperation. For instance, the V4 + Israel project took place in 2018, focusing on start-ups and innovations. The original intention dating back to the 1990s to permanently expand the V4 by other countries in the region such as Slovenia or Austria proved not to be feasible; however, the V4+ cooperation on specific projects has proven successful.

Other regional formats

The V4 cooperation format is complemented and developed within the Czech foreign policy by other regional formats, e.g. the Slavkov (Austerlitz) format (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria) or the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) the aim of which is to facilitate the infrastructure interconnection between the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea via Central Europe.