For the first time since the onset of the Russo-Ukraine War, which is now in its eighth month, the top officials from the Visegrád bloc (V4) countries—Hungary, Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia—last week held a joint meeting in the Slovak capital of Bratislava
The joint summit, which followed months of moderately strained relations due to divergent positions on sanctions against the Russian Federation, took place last Tuesday and saw presidents from the four Central European countries meet to discuss the war in Ukraine, the V4’s collective security, the ongoing energy crisis, inflation, and the potential expansion of alliance, the Hungarian news portal Körkép reports.
Katalin Novak, Andrzej Duda, Miloš Zeman, and Zuzana Czaputova took part in two plenary sessions. The first of was devoted to the security situation in the V4 region amid the Russo-Ukraine War, while the second zeroed in on the energy crisis and common European solutions, including the need to move away from fossil fuels.
During a press conference that followed the plenary sessions, President Miloš Zeman, who is serving his second and final five-year term as Czechia’s head of state, said that the V4 bloc is at least as important, if not more important, than the Benelux countries—Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg—adding that it would be good to expand the alliance with the addition of Slovenia.
Zeman, with whom the other presidents said goodbye to as it was his final V4 summit as the president of the Czech Republic, lauded V4 countries for selfless and generous assistance they have provided—and continue to provide—to Ukrainian refugees. The Czech president also slammed the Green New Deal and argued it had contributed to the energy crisis in a significant way.
“Renewable resources must be backed by conventional sources,” he said
Lastly, in addition to noting the V4 had “proven its role by preventing attempts to distribute illegal migrants by quotas among individual European countries,” Zeman grimly underscored the importance of avoiding a nuclear conflict. “We must avoid being the last heads of state before the Third World War,” he warned.
Addressing the elephant in the room—Hungary’s adamant refusal to impose energy sanctions against Russia at the expense of its economy and people—Hungarian President Katalin Novák emphasize that “the different conditions and capabilities of the countries must be taken into account.”
Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová, for her part, said the summit was an important meeting held an extraordinary time, adding that despite the differences of opinion of certain issues, it was possible to carry out constructive dialogue.
“I must state that the last package of sanctions, the 8th, found agreement and support among all European countries, including Hungary. I consider it an important signal,” Čaputová said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda explained: “On fundamental issues, in matters of both military and energy security, we speak today with one voice and as a Visegrad community and as part of a wider community of Central Europe— the Bucharest Nine and the Three Seas. And I believe that thanks to this, we are able to survive the most difficult trials,” stressed the Polish President.”
The V4 joint meeting comes roughly a month after ministers, national lawmakers, members of the European Parliament, academics, business leaders, public intellectuals, and journalists from across Central Europe convened in Bratislava for the second annual Conservative Summit.
Among the notable attendees were, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga, Hungarian MP Balász Orbán, and Slovak MEP Mariam Lexmann.