V4 countries progress in defence cooperation

The extraordinary session of the Ministers of Defence of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, held in Prague on 17th December, confirmed the willingness of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to play an important role in the protection of the Schengen Area and the management of the migration crisis.

Under the current Czech Presidency of Visegrad Group 2015-2016, the session was convened by the Czech Minister of Defence, Martin Stropnicky.

V4 will help Macedonia if the migrant flow continues to increase

"We have reached a consensus that the basic prerequisite for easing the migration crisis in Europe lies in the ensuring proper protection of the external borders of the Schengen Area, and to adhere to previously agreed regulations. We are delighted that all the European countries have come to the same conclusion," said Minister Stropnicky at a press conference at the end of the session. He also acknowledged Hungary on their timely and effective protection of its external Schengen boundary.

The senior representatives of the V4 Ministries of Defence also agreed that a key issue for the security of central Europe was the stability of the western Balkan countries. Should the migration wave increase in strength next spring, the Visegrad countries would cooperate with Macedonia, or indeed any other countries in the western Balkans, and, if necessary be prepared to offer joint security and/or military support.

Battle Group for a strong V4

The V4 representatives also discussed its readiness for the potential deployment of their EU Battle Group, part of the European security readiness force, for the first half of 2016. They also highlighted the need to maintain the capability of this Battle Group beyond June 2016.

"Our aim is to show the V4 as a strong, operational and stable group within the central-European region. We fully support the formation of this Battle Group," said Hungarian Minister of Defence Istvan Simicsko.

A similar view was expressed by the Polish representative, Tomasz Szatkowski. "The birth of the Visegrad Battle Groups is proof that the V4 countries are capable of creating their own (military) formations which support the overall interoperability for joint operations."

Slovak State Secretary Milos Koterec added: "The Slovak Republic comes here today with a significant contribution to the V4 Battle Group; a unit of 536 of our soldiers ready to participate.

The V4 defence cooperation will continue under the Czech Presidency into next year. The V4 Political Directors of the Ministries of Defence and Chiefs of General Staffs will convene again at the beginning of 2016.

December 18, 2015