The Visegrád countries (Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic, the V4) play an important role in cooperation within the region and are now initiating constructive discussions with the countries of the Western Balkans, Minister for Public Administration and Justice Tibor Navracsics announced at a seminar in Budapest on Monday.

At the meeting entitled "For the public administration development of the Western Balkan countries", which Hungary has organised within the framework of its V4 Presidency programme, the Minister emphasised that cooperation within an EU framework poses an excellent opportunity for the Visegrád countries. However, it is also clear that the incorporation of the Western Balkan states - Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia - into this advocacy group would further expand horizons. "Our region will only thrive if our cooperation is strong and efficient", Mr. Navracsics said.

The Euro-Atlantic integration of the countries of the Western Balkans requires stability, development and prosperity, and this can only be achieved through excellent governance, the Minister stressed, adding that the global economic crisis has caused similar problems for most countries, as a result of which national economies are today increasingly reliant on the state. Supporting the EU expansion process remains one of the top priorities of the Hungarian Presidency of the V4, he pointed out.

Hungary took over as President of the Group in July, for a period of one year. In relation to the European Union's expansion policy, Minister Navracsics said that funding is available for member states to hold joint events with the participation of the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey, which was also represented at the seminar in Budapest. The goal of the seminar was to present the public administration development programmes of the Visegrád Group countries and the three main elements of the Zoltán Magyary Plan launched in summer 2011: human resource management, e-governance and regional public administration.

The Minister also mentioned that the long-term goal of the seminar was the establishment of a network of experts within which professionals could share their experiences to help shape the public administration of the countries involved. "He who teaches, also learns", Mr. Navracsics said. In his lecture, KIM Minister of State for Public Administration Marcell Bíró presented the Zoltán Magyary Public Administration Development Plan, which publishes a report each year on the work completed and results achieved in the interests of realising better governance (the Good State index).

With relation to the renewal of public administration staff, Mr. Bíró also spoke about performance evaluation practices and the planned, work.-based system, as well as about the establishment of the National University of Public Administration. The Minister of State also explained the design of the Good State index, which incorporates several indices that together provide a complex picture of both the state of development of public administration and of public satisfaction.

(Ministry of Public Administration and Justice)