“The European Union can only be strong if it is made up of strong member states”, Minister of Defence Tibor Benkő said on 10 June at a meeting of Visegrád Group (V4) defence officials in Piešťany (Pöstyén), Slovakia.

The defence officials of the countries of the Visegrád Group (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, the V4) met in Piešťany (Pöstyén), Slovakia on Monday. At the meeting, which was attended by Hungarian Defence Minister Tibor Benkő, Slovakian Defence Minister  Peter Gajdoš, Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar and Polish Deputy Defence Minister Tomasz Zdzikot, the parties primarily evaluated the activities of the Slovakian Presidency of the V4, which ends on 30 June. “The results achieved indicate that under the Slovakian Presidency the joint activities of the V4 EU Battle Group (V4 EU BG) may be regarded as outstanding”, it was stated.

At the press conference following the meeting, Minister of Defence Tibor Benkő said that at the meeting, the battle group’s preparations for standby duty for the second half of 2019 were evaluated as successful, and he regards the agreement on the re-formation of the battle group in 2023 as an important result with relation to the future. “The past year proves that the V4 is a successful regional alliance with an increasingly level of visibility, which is also increasingly successful within the field of defence cooperation. This is something that is needed in view of the fact that Europe’s security and the region’s stability have increased in significance in the recent period. This cooperation is a major priority for Hungary’, the Minister of Defence said.

Following the meeting, the V4 defence ministers held talks with defence officials from the member states involved in the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC): Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. With relation to the CEDC, the Hungarian Defence Minister pointed out: “The European Union can only be strong if it is made up of strong member states, and this is why the further development of joint capabilities is necessary”. As he explained, the parties also all agreed that NATO must not only face eastern challenges, but also southern challenges. “One of the tangible pieces of proof of this are the COOPSEC 2019 migration crisis management exercises that Hungary will be holding this summer with the participation of fifteen countries. During the exercises, police and military forces will be practicing coordinated action to combat a migration crisis situation”, Mr. Benkő stated.

With relation to standby and reaction capabilities, the Minister of Defence also said: “The establishment of the Central European Multinational Division Command is of priority importance with relation to deepening defence cooperation”.

On behalf of the V4 Presidency, Slovakian Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš also evaluated the cooperation as a success with relation to the talks, pointing out the increasingly important role of the EU BG. “Our strength lies in our unity”, he said, adding that the countries of the Visegrád Group are continuing to expand their cooperation opportunities, and are in fact also searching for such opportunities with other European countries.

At the end of the meeting, the parties listened to a report on the programme of the Czech Presidency, which begins on 1 July, during which it was stated that the Czech Presidency would like to primarily involve itself with further deepening V4 cooperation and the further development of the EU Battle Group.

With relation to the Central European Defence Cooperation, all of the participants agreed that the greatest current challenges are preserving the delicate peace of the Western Balkans, and the threat of the possible development of a migration situation from the south.

(Ministry of Defence)