Meeting of the Committees on Foreign Affairs of the Parliaments of the V4 countries, 19-20 February 2023, Bratislava

Holding the Presidency of the Visegrád Group from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, the National Council of the Slovak Republic organised a meeting for the Committees on Foreign Affairs of the Parliaments of the V4 countries on 19–20 February 2023 in Bratislava. At the invitation of Marián Kéry, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, delegations from the relevant committees of all V4 parliamentary chambers were in attendance. The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Hungarian National Assembly was represented by Committee Chairman Zsolt Németh as well as Committee Vice-Chairs Hajnalka Juhász and Koloman Brenner.

Participants at the meeting first discussed the future of the Western Balkans in Europe with keynote speaker Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues. Mr Lajčák spoke about the dynamics and challenges in the Western Balkans, while also providing a look at the region from a broader perspective and addressing the role and responsibilities of the Parliaments of Central European countries in relation to the Western Balkans. This was followed by a discussion among the participants on the cooperation in the Visegrád Group, with particular regard to the current crises. On this topic Martin Muránsky, Director of the think tank ASA Institute, gave a keynote speech, recalling, among others, the history of the V4 and the 1991 Visegrád Declaration, which aimed at ensuring equal rights and decision-making, as he put it. He stressed that the V4 should move on from their own conflicts and join forces in this new reality.

All Members of Parliament agreed on the importance of the European integration of the Western Balkans and the need to share the experience of Eastern European countries with the countries in that region. In his comments, Zsolt Németh underlined the importance of the stability in the West Balkans, which also affects the stability of our region, furthermore he highlighted the significance of keeping the V4 format alive, which, in his view, needs fresh dynamics. With regard to the Western Balkans, Hajnalka Juhász pointed out the importance of conditionality, besides sympathy, when it comes to enlargement. Koloman Brenner highlighted that the V4 should jointly advocate the significance of meeting the Copenhagen criteria and stressed the importance of the rights of national minorities.

+ photos (National Council of the Slovak Republic)