“According to the countries of the Visegrád Group, it is important to support initiatives within the European Union that are aimed at protecting Europe’s external borders”, the Ministry of Defence’s Parliamentary State Secretary declared at a joint press conference on Wednesday with his fellow V4 deputy defence ministers in Székesfehérvár.

Following the two-day meeting of Visegrád Group deputy defence ministers, Tamás Vargha highlighted: “We agreed on the importance of establishing defence and security, which requires the development of the armed forces of all four countries”. “The V4 are fulfilling their obligations with relation to NATO by increasing their defence expenditure until 2024, during which time they will be spending 20 percent of their defence budgets on development”, he added.

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According to the Deputy Minister, the V4 have gained ever further strength in recent years thanks to their defence cooperation. He pointed out that the four countries of the V4 often work together, they have defended Hungary and Europe, and this will remain a key priority during Hungary’s current presidency of the Group.

Mr. Vargha told reporters that the topics of discussion at the meeting had included both current issues on NATO’s agenda and EU defence tasks. The Deputy Defence Ministers welcomed the recent realisation on the part of both organisations that they play and can continue to play a role in establishing European security even if immigration presents a different kind of challenge than the one NATO, for instance, has been preparing for so far.

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In reply to a question from the press, the Deputy Minister said that increasing defence expenditure is a general NATO principle, and the expectation is for countries to spend 2 percent of their GDP in defence. “Another expectation is for countries to spend 20 percent of their defence budget on development, which Hungary will already be conforming to in 2018”, he added.

According to Polish Deputy Defence Minister Tomasz Szatkowszki, there are still common goals that have not been realised, but increasingly close cooperation provides a good foundation for their realisation. “The V4 must maintain a constant state of defence policy readiness in the face of various challenges, and this is something we have fully realised”, he added.

As he explained, during Poland’s recently ended V4 presidency an ambitious military development programme was adopted, an important element of which is doubling the number of staff of the Polish military in view of the fact that Poland wishes to play a determining role in the “Eastern line of defence”. The V4 also cares about the security of its member states, as further reinforced by plans to establish a joint battle group by 2019.

Slovakian Deputy Defence Minister Róbert Ondrejcsák mentioned that the security of the Baltic region had also been discussed at the meeting. “The V4 agreed that as NATO allies we must continue to take joint action in the Baltic region”, he added.

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“Slovakia has also adopted a new defence and security policy recently, one of the main elements of which is the long-term development of our armed forces”, he told the press.

Mr. Ondrejcsák said it was important for the countries of the Visegrád Group to continue to deepen their cooperation within the fields of the economic and defence policy in the upcoming years, adding that in his view the V4 plays a very important role in European security, and the establishment of the joint battle group could significantly contribute to the further reinforcement of this role.

Czech Deputy Defence Minister Jakub Landovsky stressed that the V4 are travelling their own path towards establishing the security of the Central European region, explaining that the Czech Government is committed to assuring that NATO and EU defence policy also begins to develop in this direction.

According to Mr. Landovsky, the reinforcement of Europe’s military and PESCO () is an important step towards security, while in the case of NATO it would be important to reinforce the Alliance’s role as a deterrent.

The Czech Deputy Defence Minister said reinforcing each other’s capabilities within the V4, finding the instruments required to achieve this, and the distribution of duties, was important.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)