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Monday, April 22, 2024

V4 Summit. Tusk on the obvious truth, Orban on looking through Hungarian glasses

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The summit of the Visegrad Group (V4) was held in the Czech capital. The meeting was attended by the heads of government of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – Donald Tusk, Petr Fiala, Robert Fico and Viktor Orban. One of the topics of conversation was policy towards Ukraine. – The truth is obvious: Putin is a war criminal – Tusk said. – Some people look at this conflict through Ukrainian glasses, and Hungary looks through Hungarian glasses, Orban said.

Travelers from the V4 countries, who met on Tuesday in Prague, were asked during the press conference whether in the context war in Ukraine and differences between individual countries members of the Visegrad Group in their approach to counteracting Russian aggression, “we can already talk about V2 plus V2”. – Has it been possible to determine who is the aggressor in this war? – was the question about the conclusions from the meeting.

The head of the Czech government, Petr Fiala, noted in response that “we do not hide the fact that there are significant differences between us.” As he admitted, the V4 is different than before the Russian aggression, and in terms of perceiving the causes of Russian aggression and seeking a solution to this crisis, “the differences are very large.” – There is no doubt that the situation in the V4 has become polarized due to aggression Russiabut today’s meeting shows that it makes sense to talk, listen to what partners say and look for points of contact, concluded Fiala.

He presented a decisive assessment of the situation Donald Tusk.

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– The truth is obvious: Putin is a war criminal, and the only reason for the war is Russian aggression Ukraine. There is no room for neutrality or symmetry here, said Donald Tusk.

– Regardless of how strong a country Russia remains, the political, moral and historical assessment of what is happening in Ukraine today must be unambiguous. In such matters as assessing who is guilty of the war, who is the aggressor, who is the victim, what is the cause of the war – this is not a space for negotiations – replied Tusk.

As he said, “you can negotiate the terms of peace, you can think about methods of action, how to help Ukraine, who wants as much, who can do as much, but there is not even the slightest space for speculation about who is guilty and who is not of this aggression.”

– Ukraine is fighting for its independence and the right to independent existence. It is simple and so obvious that there is no point in commenting more, Tusk emphasized.

Donald Tusk during the press conference after the summit in PraguePAP/Radek Pietruszka

As he said, “if we had adopted Moscow’s point of view, or the one currently presented by Putin, neither Slovakia, nor the Czech Republic, nor Hungary, nor Poland would be independent countries and we would still live in slavery.” – Therefore, we have no right to condemn our neighbors to this type of sad fate – added Tusk.

– I hope after today’s meeting that we will find ways to convince each other in a way that will benefit the entire Fourth Party, Europe and Ukraine – said the head of the Polish government.

Orban: Hungary looks at this conflict through Hungarian glasses

Prime Minister Hungarian Viktor Orbán he stressed that, first of all, we should discuss how to end the war. – Some people look at this conflict through Ukrainian glasses, and Hungary looks through Hungarian glasses – he noted. According to the Hungarian Prime Minister, “we should save as many lives as possible and end this war.” – Whoever is the aggressor is the aggressor, whoever is the victim is the victim, Tusk is right here. But the question for us is how the war will end, Orban said.

Prime Minister Slovakia Robert Fico repeated that his government will not provide armed aid or military equipment to Ukraine. – When it comes to commercial and trade assistance, we do not see any obstacles – he added.

Tusk: The Visegrad Group has extremely solid foundations

Donald Tusk said that he was at the “birth” of the Visegrad Group (V4). He mentioned that it was created by historical figures. – Visegrad Group has extremely durable foundations – said the Polish Prime Minister. He added that at the birth of this group there was a common resistance against the Soviet empire and the presence of Russian troops in our countries.

Tusk said that the Visegrad Group “has extremely solid foundations.” – We all remember how important basic values ​​were for this friendship – noted the Polish Prime Minister.

Collaboration Test

Tusk confessed that he “is very concerned about the future of the V4.” – I care very much about this – in a few months I will accept the presidency of the Visegrad Group from Petr (Fiala – ed.), so that we all remember what was at its basis – he called.

The head of the Polish government said that today “the test of our cooperation are our activities in the European Union, because we do not have to ensure friendship between nations, they are obvious and well-established.”

– Today, we must determine our common interests in more difficult conditions, what is the basis of the Visegrad Group, what we wrote in our declaration and in our hearts should today apply to our common policy regarding Ukraine – Tusk said. He added that “approaches vary” on this issue.

– After this conversation, I think it is possible to build at least “piecemeal” such joint work for this assistance, with different approaches to the matter, but I hope that after our discussion, support for Ukraine will be more clear – said Tusk.

Fiala on “open conversations and differences”

Petr Fiala, in turn, reminded that Tuesday’s meeting in Prague was the first one after the takeover by The czech republic presidency last July. He also talked about a very long meeting and open conversations in an atmosphere of honesty.

Fiala mentioned that the meeting was originally supposed to be held in a different format, with an expanded lineup. – The four of us talked because we felt that we should discuss certain topics among ourselves – he added.

Prime Ministers Robert Fico, Donald Tusk, Petr Fiala and Viktor Orban MARTIN DIVISEK/PAP/EPA

Fiala admitted that there are differences between the V4 countries and “these differences remain and are publicly well known.”

– At the same time, we managed to establish that there are certain issues where we are able to find consensus, and there are topics on which our countries can cooperate (…). There is agreement among us (…) on the subject of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine on two issues – firstly, that Russian aggression constitutes a serious violation of international law, a position shared by all four of our countries. The second point on which we agree is that Ukraine needs help, and we should help Ukraine, said the Czech Prime Minister.

– We will participate in the aid – we, all four of our countries. However, we differ, it is an open secret what form this assistance should take from individual countries – he admitted.

As Fiala said, Poland and the Czech Republic also provide military assistance, while Slovakia and Hungary do not participate in such assistance. – However, these two countries are ready to support with humanitarian, financial and other forms of assistance – noted the Czech Prime Minister.

Orban: Hungary’s position has not changed

Viktor Orban said at a joint press conference that although he had participated in 52 Visegrad Group summits so far, Tuesday’s talks “were not the easiest.” He emphasized that historically V4 was created to defend the common interests of its members and a stronger voice in the European Union.

– Today’s meeting convinced me that Visegrad is alive, active and we are able to accept our differences. Hungary is still ready to continue this cooperation, he said.

Referring to the war in Ukraine, Orban noted that although the V4 countries have “different approaches to the war”, they also share common positions. – We agree that Ukraine needs to be helped and needs help, this is the right approach – he added.

– From Hungary’s point of view, there is another special aspect. Hungary does not want to have a common border with Russia again. We once had such a common border and these memories are not good – he emphasized.

– We want there to be an entity that will stand between us and Russia, and that is also why we are helping Ukraine – noted the head of the Hungarian government.

Orban stressed that Hungary’s position has not changed. He added that the country does not send weapons or troops to Ukraine, but it is able to provide any humanitarian aid, send doctors operating on the battlefield, help refugees and rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure.

Listing other issues on which there is agreement between the countries, the Hungarian Prime Minister recalled the common opposition to illegal immigration, as well as the issues of immigrant relocation raised in the EU, in which “we look forward to cooperation in the future.” Orban also mentioned a similar position on agriculture and energy security, of which nuclear energy is an important element.

Fico: we should support peace talks

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico emphasized that Tuesday’s meeting “was extremely important” for the future of the Visegrad Group. He also presented Slovakia’s position on the war in Ukraine.

– I do not believe that we should support Ukraine militarily, I think that we should support peace talks – he said. – However, there is no doubt that this war will end in a few years, perhaps we will no longer be in politics, but I am convinced that the Visegrad Group will still be important – he added.

He emphasized that the V4 countries face challenges in regional cooperation, including: the issue of EU enlargement, which will have a huge impact on agricultural policy and the budget. – These are topics that we need to discuss and look for solutions that will be good for us and for those who want to join the EU, such as Ukraine, for example – he said.

He added that we also need to discuss the EU reform. – We have countries that do not like the fact that smaller countries have a different opinion than the majority and there are plans to ban the veto right of such countries. I think we all agree that the veto must remain, he emphasized.

He added that the topic of migration also came up during the meeting. He noted that the position on the migration pact is similar, as is the position on agricultural products from Ukraine.

He also admitted that there were also discussions about who should be the EU Defense Commissioner.

Informal form of cooperation

The Visegrad Group is an informal form of regional cooperation between four Central European countries. The date of its creation is February 15, 1991, the year of the president of Poland Lech Walesa and Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel and the Prime Minister of Hungary, Jozsef Antall, signed a joint declaration in the Hungarian city of Vyšehrad setting out the goals and conditions of mutual cooperation.


Main photo source: MARTIN DIVISEK/PAP/EPA

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