At a meeting in Budapest of Hungarian heads of foreign missions, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó highlighted the critical importance of the Visegrád Four (V4) and hailed cooperation between Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic as the most effective alliance in Europe.

At a conference in Budapest opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary and attended by the foreign ministers of V4 countries - the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland - Peter Szijjarto hailed the V4 as an alliance of critical importance in Europe that is brave enough to speak of things honestly and as they are instead of succumbing in to the pressure of hypocritical and politically correct forms of expression. The V4 is “in the best shape, at the best time”, as the EU is simultaneously facing a number of serious challenges, said Szijjarto. The Minister also added that in these extremely turbulent times, the collective voice of the V4 countries remains louder than its individual parts and that the V4 alliance has de facto become an important factor in the discussion on Europe’s future.

The Foreign Minister explained that on matters of critical policy importance the members of the V4 call a spade a spade, and – instead of chasing illusions – seek genuine policy prescriptions to these problems. The secret of the V4’s success is that they pursue policy based on mutual respect, Szijjarto added leading to a situation of historic importance: a “historic peace” in Central Europe.

Speaking to an audience of the the heads of Hungarian foreign missions, Szijjártó affirmed the importance of establishing the closest possible cooperation with V4 partners at Hungary’s foreign representations around the world; representing Hungary’s and Central Europe’s position in the discussion on the EU’s future in a decisive manner; and – following last year’s records – a goal of breaking foreign trade records again.

Szijjarto added that, in a discussion on the EU’s future, ambassadors must priotizie the message that security is the number one priority, and that any policy encouraging hundreds of thousands of people to set off towards Europe must be discarded. The mass immigration crisis poses threats, and our task is to protect ourselves against these, Szijjarto stressed.

The Foreign Minister pointed out that the strongest answers to the difficult challenges facing the Eu are produced at the member-state level, not in Brussels, and that for this reason the V4 oppose any efforts which would take away further competencies from member states and raise them to yjr EU-level.

On the topic of the most important policy positions to be supported by Hungarian diplomats, Szijjártó said that the EU’s rule of law must be respected by all. "We do not accept double standards, just as we do not accept someone being criticized for complying with the rules," said Szijjártó. The Minister also emphasized the importance of enlarging the EU.

Speaking in relation to the issue of economics and foreign trade, the Foreign minister said that 2015 was the first full year in which the new Hungarian foreign affairs institutional system was operational, and all previous foreign trade records have been broken. While a realistic chance also exists to break 2015's trade records, more work will be required to do so, said Szijjártó.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski stressed that Central Europe expects to be taken seriously and is to be regarded as a partner. Speaking about the NATO summit in Warsaw, Waszczykowski said that it resulted in stronger European cooperation, and has reinforced the commitment to burden-sharing and the conviction that no single member state should sidestep its responsibility.

Waszczykowski called Russia’s actions since 2014 a crack in the security structure, but he also added that the V4 and NATO want to implement a positive agenda, but for this Russia must show an attitude which can rebuild trust without undermining NATO's credibility.

The Polish Foreign Minister also spoke about Brexit and urged people not to avoid talking about the EU’s future. He went on to say that the V4 wishes to participate in the discussions on reforms “with a strong voice”: an open, honest and unbiased dialogue must be opened because a divided Europe is weak. In order to achieve this, he underlined, it is important that the voice of national parliaments is heard in Brussels and that the European Commission conducts a less biased policy.

Speaking on the topic of migration, Waszczykowski said that a policy based on the effective protection of external borders must be enforced. He also urged broader economic cooperation, stressing that the EU’s budget must be established in a way which serves growth while not also increasing member states’ reliance on EU funds.

Czech minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek affirmed the Hungarian sentiment that people in the Czech Republic live in constant insecurity. In recent years something has fundamentally changed in the world: the self-confidence and feeling of stability that had earlier been the norm has disappeared," Zaorálek said. The work of politicians and diplomats has also changed: it has turned into continuous firefighting, he added.

Zaorálek said that the coming period will be one fundamentally about long term decisions: after Brexit the most important task is currently securing the stability of the European project. Brexit itself has to be regarded as the beginning of radical institutional changes, Zaorálek explained.

The Czech Foreign Minister stressed that the European Commission must be unbiased and credible; it should represent compromise and unity, but currently does not. The task to assure the stability of the European project and restore European unity is one of combating the current mistrust, he added.

Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcák stressed that the V4 can achieve is far more powerful together than individually, adding that the current migration crisis has turned their cooperation into a closer alliance.

Pointing out that Slovakia is currently the President of the EU, his country is urging a pragmatic approach and the establishment of pragmatic, specific, and achievable goals. "Europe must be brought together; the people’s voice must be listened to," he stressed so that the EU can deal with their real problems. Lajcák added that it is also important to establish a sustainable migration and asylum policy within the Schengen framework and to support Europe in assuming a global role.

Speaking on the topic of Brexit, Lajcák said that the closest possible relationship must be maintained with the United Kingdom and that the current situation of limbo and uncertainty must be resolved as soon as possible. It is also important to assure that no additional dividing lines emerge in Europe, he added.

The Slovak Foreign Minister said that the EU has two options: either it reacts to the needs of its people, or it ends up in permanent crisis. "We must not allow euro-skepticism to gain more ground", he stressed: "the EU is the solution, not the problem."

(MTI, Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister)