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SZIJJÁRTÓ: MAINTAINING COOPERATION IN V4 COUNTRIES' INTEREST

 

Although there have been multiple attempts over the past decades to fracture the Visegrad Group, the grouping remains alive, and it is in the member countries’ interest to keep the partnership going, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Prague. Keeping V4 cooperation going is in Hungary’s “obvious national interest”, Szijjártó told a press conference held jointly with his Czech, Polish and Slovak counterparts, according to a ministry statement. Over the past decades, many attempts had been made “to break this cooperation from the outside”, the minister said. He added, however, that despite the pressure on the V4 and the four countries’ disagreement on how to achieve peace in Ukraine, “the V4 is still operational and there is a common interest and common will among the four of us to keep the V4 operational”. He underlined that maintaining the V4 alliance was a national, economic and political interest for Hungary.
Szijjártó said cooperation among the four central European countries had so far been effective in protecting their national sovereignty and overcoming the “federalist intentions” of the European Union, adding that the V4 would remain relevant in the future as well. The V4, he said, was also essential in combatting illegal migration, noting that Czechia, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia insisted on their right to determine whom they allow entry to and want to live together with. The V4 countries, he said, refused to relinquish their sovereignty in determining their national energy mix and took a joint stand against discrimination against nuclear energy. The grouping also wants tax policy to remain a national competence, he said, adding that the four countries would continue to stand up for the interests of their farmers in the EU. Meanwhile, Szijjártó said Slovakia was Hungary’s second, Poland its third and Czechia its sixth most important trading partner, noting that the combined trade turnover today exceeds 46 billion euros. The success of the other three countries was also in Hungary’s interest, he said, adding that it was therefore important for them to coordinate their tactics on the most important EU issues, which the Hungarian government was prepared to do.
In response to a question, Szijjártó said Hungary was committed to its policy of not sending weapons to Ukraine, and neither would it participate in any joint arms deliveries. He noted, at the same time, that Hungary was undertaking its biggest-ever humanitarian aid operation in Ukraine. The minister also warned of the dangers of remarks about potentially sending European troops to Ukraine. Addressing criticism of his meeting with Russian counterparts, Szijjártó said negotiating with those who had differing views on certain issues was also a diplomatic responsibility, arguing that limiting contact to those whom one was in full agreement with was “not a major achievement”. Shutting down communication channels, he added, would amount to abandoning the hope for peace. He said Hungary wanted to advance its cooperation with Russia in areas not affected by European Union sanctions, the same way other countries were doing “in secret”, as evidenced by the latest statistics on natural gas, crude oil and uranium deliveries.