The European Union needs Central Europe, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, János Martonyi, said in a speech on Thursday. He also added that the region should assume greater responsibility in becoming a new source of economic growth for Europe.
Martonyi gave a lecture at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences alongside his Polish counterpart, Radoslaw Sikorski, who arrived in Hungary to mark the occasion of Poland taking over the rotating presidency of the Visegrad Four (V4) on July 1.
Martonyi said that although the future of the European Union is hotly debated, what is beyond doubt is that economic and monetary union, as well as Europe's global role, should be strengthened.
"We have reached the point of no return," Martonyi said, adding that the European Union should emerge from the crisis as a stronger and more united alliance.
"Central Europe's future lies at the centre of Europe, not on its periphery. If the Visegrad countries want to take part in decision-making about themselves, they should sooner or later join the Euro zone and catch up with the centre in all respects," he said.
Martonyi noted that in recent decades the Visegrad countries had established very strong links in infrastructure, transport and energy supply.
Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski said the V4 was a successful and constantly developing forum of cooperation. The four nations –The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – should never forget that their strength comes from their unity. He added that the region is no longer a problem to be tackled, but an indispensable contributor to common success.
Sikorski recalled that the Hungarian and Polish presidency played a significant role in managing the European crisis and also underlined that the EU Member States themselves had contributed to the development of V4 countries through subsidies provided for investment.
Among the Polish V4 presidency's priorities, Sikorski mentioned security, global issues, strengthened ties with Eastern neighbours, energy supply and cooperation in making use of nuclear energy.
The Polish minister said that the Visegrad Four should take an active part in resolving the crisis of the Euro zone, and step up in a joint manner to retain cohesion funds for the financial framework for 2014–2020.