Online meeting of the Speakers of the Parliaments of the Visegrad Group States, 21 April 2021

At the initiative of the Speakers of Parliament of Poland, which is currently holding the presidency of the Visegrád Group (V4), Speakers of the V4 Parliaments held an online meeting on 21 April 2021. In addition to the inviting parties Elżbieta Witek, Marshal of the Polish Sejm, and Tomasz Grodzki, Marshal of the Polish Senate, the meeting was attended by László Kövér, Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, as well as Radek Vondráček, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, Miloš Vystrčil, President of the Senate of the Czech Republic and Boris Kollár, Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic. Topics covered at the meeting included prospects for combating the COVID-19 pandemic, current security issues in the region in the context of digital security, information security and hybrid threats, and the exchange of views on the topics on the agenda of the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments scheduled to take place on 10 May. With regard to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Speakers agreed that the lessons learned can help us be more prepared to face another pandemic in terms of cooperation both among nation states and at EU level. László Kövér said that Hungary is doing very well in terms of vaccination coverage compared to the EU average, with over 33% of population having received at least the first dose. Hungary has also proved successful in dealing with the economic effects of the crisis and saving jobs. Speakers also agreed that, besides its importance and progressive nature, digitalisation gives rise to serious threats as well, such as disinformation, cyberattacks and phishing, and stressed the importance of cooperation within the V4 Group in this field. László Kövér stated that international agreements guaranteeing our safety and security are needed to ensure a democratic future in a digital world. Based on the agenda of the Conference of Speakers of European Union Parliaments scheduled to take place on 10 May, the Speakers also discussed the role of digitalisation in representative democracy and reported on the modes of operation applied by their Parliaments during the pandemic. The Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly proposed to his peers that V4 national parliaments should have greater involvement in the European Union’s series of conferences on the future of the EU, and have discussions in advance to reach a common V4 position. At the initiative of the Czech party, the Speakers also adopted a common position at the online meeting that (in view of the information that came to light in the days leading up to the meeting concerning the 2014 Vrbětice ammunition warehouses explosions) the Speakers of the Visegrád countries are to commit to the Joint Statement issued by V4 Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 19 April to express their solidarity with the Czech Republic as a NATO and EU ally.

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