Diplomacy / Despite differences, V4 remains meaningful 

Despite differences, V4 remains meaningful 

Even despite the differences related to support for Ukraine, the Visegrád cooperation remains meaningful and continues to have a future, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated on Tuesday in Prague at a press conference held after the summit of the prime ministers of the four Visegrád countries. 

“Today’s meeting convinced me that Visegrád lives on, Visegrád is important. We are able to respectfully acknowledge our differences even if we question each other’s positions. At the same time, we will further strengthen cooperation on joint issues. Hungary is ready to do that,” the Prime Minister said. 

According to Mr Orbán, the most recent Prague summit of prime ministers was not the “easiest” because it was “a meeting of self-reflection,” and was about whether the V4 was required in its present form. He recalled that a similar meeting of self-reflection had also taken place after the accession of the Visegrád countries to the European Union. At the time, the V4 decided on the continuation of cooperation on shared interests, and this is how they reached the Russo-Ukrainian war which “has overridden everything,” and the issue of continued cooperation has re-emerged.

The Prime Minister took the view that the “intellectually exciting meeting” of the prime ministers showed what the parties agreed on and on what issues their opinions differed. There was agreement that Russian’s attack on Ukraine was a gross violation of international law, and they also agreed that Ukraine needed help. We must help Ukraine, this is the right thing to do, the Prime Minister added. 

Mr Orbán said from Hungary’s point of view there is one other special factor, namely that Hungary does not want a common border with Russia because with this it has bad experiences from the past.

“One of the most important tenets of Hungarian national security is that East of us there must be an entity which is situated between Russia and Hungary. Therefore, we are helping Ukraine also due to Hungary’s national interests,” the Prime Minister stressed. 

According to Mr Orbán, differences among the V4 lie in how Ukraine can be helped well and effectively. “The Hungarian position is clear; we’re not sending weapons to Ukraine, neither with or without soldiers. However, beyond that we’re providing all conceivable help,” he stressed, making special mention of humanitarian assistance and the taking in of Ukrainian refugees. 

The Prime Minister took the view that even despite the differences concerning the assistance to be provided for Ukraine, the continuation of the Visegrád cooperation remains meaningful. He mentioned multiple topics on which the cooperation of the Visegrád countries is successful. These include the issue of illegal migration, regarding which the question of quotas has not been removed from the agenda, and it is well worth continuing to cooperate in this area. “Without our cooperation, today tens or hundreds of thousands of migrants would be wandering in the territories of our countries,” Mr Orbán observed. 

In answer to questions from journalists regarding the Hungarian position related to Ukraine, the Prime Minister stressed that any war can only be concluded with peace talks, and this is also true of the Russo-Ukrainian war. The continuation of this conflict will only result in a rise in the number of fatalities, and so it makes no sense. “The sooner the peace talks take place the better,” the Prime Minister said. 

Mr Orbán described the question of who will win the war as a trap because in his view this cannot be decided. In his opinion, it is also an erroneous position that one of the parties should be declared guilty and responsible in advance because this will lead nowhere. “The issue of war crimes must be decided on after the war,” Mr Orbán stated, adding that “I recommended strategic calm to everyone on this matter.” 

According to the Prime Minister, the Russo-Ukrainian war can be viewed from a Russian or Ukrainian point of view; every country has the right to that. “Without doubt, Hungary is the odd one out because it views the problem from a Hungarian point of view,” he stressed. He pointed out that what the Hungarians saw was that Russia would not defeat Ukraine, but at the same time neither would Ukraine supported by the West defeat Russia. In this situation, we must save lives and we need peace talks within the shortest possible time. This is the Hungarian position, Mr Orbán stated in answer to questions.

The Prime Minister rejected the claim on the part of a journalist that Hungary had become internationally isolated due to its Ukraine policy. 

The Czech, Polish and Slovak prime ministers, too, acknowledged that there were differences, but spoke in favour of the continuation of the Visegrád cooperation. In answer to questions, all four prime ministers clearly laid down that their countries were not planning to deploy military personnel in Ukraine.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico confirmed that, other than weapons and ammunition, his government would provide all possible assistance for Ukraine. At the same time, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, in contrast to the Hungarian and Slovak positions, they continue to remain ready to send weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. 


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