On 17-18 November 2019, under the Czech Presidency of the Visegrád Group, organised by the Senate of the Czech Republic, the Conference of Presidents and Speakers of Parliaments of V4 Countries was held in Prague on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The event was attended by the inviting party, Jaroslav Kubera, President of the Senate of the Czech Republic, as well as Radek Vondráček, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, László Kövér, Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, Andrej Danko, Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, Elżbieta Witek, Marshal of the Polish Sejm, and Bogdan Borusewicz, Deputy Marshal of the Polish Senate. The meeting’s agenda focused on two topics: “November 1989” and “November 2019”. The special guest of the first session was Pavel Žáček, one of the organisers of the 1989 student demonstrations, and after the regime change director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and Security Services Archives, currently a Member of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, who in his speech thanked in particular the Hungarian young people for their active participation in the events of 1989 in Prague. During the commemorations, the participants jointly opened the exhibitions entitled “Velvet Revolution” and “Moments of the 20th century”, and also attended other celebratory events. As part of his personal programme, the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly laid a wreath at the memorial to the victims of communism.
During the first session, the participants shared their personal experiences of 1989, paid tribute to the leaders of the revolution, praised the importance of the Velvet Revolution and the freedom gained, and referred to the mutual support of the V4 countries, which was already experienced at that time. During the second session, the participants stressed the importance of the V4 cooperation, the necessity of common actions on the European stage, the need for equal treatment within the European Union and the consensus among V4 countries on supporting EU enlargement.
In his contribution, László Kövér, Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly praised the importance of the event and underlined the fact that the Visegrád cooperation has now become the closest and most effective European alliance. He emphasised the fact that the V4 countries have a clear vision about the future of Europe and that they are ready to contribute with constructive ideas to joint European solutions. He also thanked his V4 partners, that on 4 November all three countries were represented at the Speakers’ level at the ninth Conference of Parliamentary Speakers of Southeast European Countries, organised by the Hungarian National Assembly, as it was the first time that he had invited his Visegrád partners as well.
At the press conference following the event, host Jaroslav Kubera, President of the Czech Senate, emphasised the importance of the joint participation of V4 Presidents and Speakers of parliaments in the commemoration. He also underlined that further progress is needed regarding European-level cooperation in order to make the positions of the Visegrád countries better respected by the old Member States.
Radek Vondráček, Speaker of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, summarising the discussions, stated that with regard to key issues, there is agreement and continuous cooperation among the V4 countries.
László Kövér, the Speaker of the National Assembly, expressed his thanks for the realisation of the event in celebration of the common success of our nations’ struggles for freedom, which strengthens the commitment to continue our cooperation. This is also justified by the fact that, as members of the European Union for 15 years, we have to admit that the EU is a framework for promoting interests, where countries of our size can only achieve success together. The Union is currently facing challenges for which it cannot find solutions or is seeking them in the wrong way; thus, the V4 should not only cooperate on questions about migration but also on economic ones (for example the multiannual financial framework). The Speaker was highly appreciative of the fact that this common presence at the event expressed our togetherness and emphasised that it is important for the V4 countries not to be considered a problem by the older EU Member States, but rather a solution.
Andrej Danko, Speaker of the Slovak National Council, referred to the fact that the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that allowed them to form their own state is also a national holiday in Slovakia. At the same time, he praised the togetherness of the V4 countries and suggested that the V4+ format meetings that took place during the Slovak V4 presidency should be continued. He pointed out the need to renew the European Union and the fact that it should not be allowed to make decisions based on ideologies instead of rationality.
Elżbieta Witek, Marshal of the Polish Sejm, praised the mutual support between the Visegrád countries and emphasised that we should ensure that the voices of the V4 are heard in the European Union and that these countries are treated as equal partners according to the equal rights of member states.
Bogdan Borusewicz, Deputy Marshal of the Polish Senate, stressed that the V4 cooperation, including the coordination of efforts to establish the North-South connection and the enlargement of the European Union, also enjoy the support of the Polish opposition.