Cooperation between the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia has proved to be successful even in the current difficult period, with the Visegrad Group countries planning to intensify their joint efforts in the fight against the novel coronavirus, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said. The current situation has highlighted the practical advantages of V4 cooperation because all four members have helped one another in transporting citizens home from abroad, Szijjártó told an online press conference on Facebook after a videoconference with V4 counterparts. He also said that Polish doctors returning from Italy had been sharing their experiences with doctors in the other three V4 countries. Eastern Partnership also featured on the agenda of the meeting, Szijjártó said, adding that the pandemic would “completely redraw the global economic and political map, a development the European Union should be preparing for”.
“As the EU will have a need for allies, friends and partners, it is obviously useful for it to develop closer ties with its eastern neighbours,” he said. Szijjártó said he had agreed with his V4 counterparts to set up a 250,000 euro solidarity fund within the International Visegrad Fund for six partner states in the east: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The ministers were also in agreement that “noticeable and drastic” steps were required to give a boost to the Eastern Partnership programme which had stagnated over the recent period, he said. Szijjártó said he had proposed scrapping the EU sanctions against Belarus, stepping up NATO-Georgia cooperation, signing a new strategic agreement with Azerbaijan and making sure that Moldova receives the 70 million euros that the EU had approved but then refused to transfer citing an “unfair pretext”.