Only united Visegrad Group can defend its members’ interests: FM

Czech and Polish FMs at press conference. Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell

“Only a united Visegrad Group [V4] will be able to defend its members' interests regarding the new EU budget, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said after Thursday talks in Warsaw with his Czech counterpart Tomas Petricek.

At a joint press conference, Czaputowicz said that the Visegrad Group countries (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland) had to speak with one voice in debates on the new EU financial perspective, especially regarding cohesion and agricultural funding.

"We believe it is especially essential for this format to show solidarity and adopt a common position, because only if we speak with one voice will we be credible and heard in the EU, and able to defend our interests, which are convergent when it comes to the [EU] financial perspective, cohesion policy and common agricultural policy," Czaputowicz said.

Mr Petricek, for his part, said that the V4 group's priority should be intensifying ties and alliances within the EU. He praised the Polish-Croatian Three Seas initiative, emphasising that the Czech Republic was among the six countries that have agreed to contribute to it financially.

Nord Stream 2

Both ministers were asked about their countries' differences regarding the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Petricek said the Czech Republic did not see the project as a threat as it obtained over 90 percent of its gas from Germany. He added, however, that Prague supported demands to uphold the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine as a token of solidarity with Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia, for whom the issue was of major importance.

Czaputowicz reiterated Poland's stance towards Nord Stream 2, and explained that the project hampered attempts to diversify gas supply. He also supported the EC's efforts to bring the project under European law.

Immigration issues

The ministers were also asked about their countries' position on the UN's proposed migration treaty. Czaputowicz said Poland saw "some weak points" in the act, especially concerning safeguards against illegal migration.

Last Thursday, Czech President Andrej Babis spoke against his country's participation in the treaty.

Passed by the UN last year, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is a non-binding accord designed to aid in the resolution of migration problems. The document is to be officially adopted by UN countries this December in Marrakesh. Besides Poland and the Czech Republic, the US, Hungary and Austria have distanced themselves from the agreement.