VISEGRAD GROUP WILL WORK FOR EU INTEGRATION- FORCED DISTRIBUTION OF MIGRANTS NOT JUSTIFIED ; AMBASSADORS EMPHASIZE CLOSE CONTACTS BETWEEN EU & ITS CITIZENS

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Islamabad (Tazeen Akhtar)The Visegrad Group countries’ ambassadors have pledged to strive for more vibrant and stronger Europe with an emphasis on European Union that it needs to make better contacts with the citizens to avoid further fragmentation after the Brexit.

The ambassadors expressed their resolve to deal with the challenges jointly hand in hand including the migration issue .They said forced distribution of migrants is not justified as it can open doors to more and more migration towards Europe.They called for consideration of  economic conditions of the respective countries before asking them to adjust the migrants.

This was stated by Ambassador Of Hungary, H.E Istvan Szabo, Ambassador of Poland, H.E Piotr A. Opalinski and  Ambassador of Czech Republic H.E Jan Fury of Czech Republic  in a press conference on the occasion of the commencement of Hungarian Presidency of Visegrad Group at Hungarian Residence Islamabad on July 12, 2017.Ambassador of Slovakia, resident in Iran sent his message of good wishes from Tehran.

 Hungary has assumed the presidency from Poland for the year 2017-18. Ambassador Istvan Szabo hosted and conducted the press conference. Deputy Head of Mission Ms Agnes Pompos was also present.

Mr. Istvan Szabo briefed the journalists about the group and its role in central Europe regarding different spheres and sectors.

Ambassador of Hungary also highlighted priority areas in which the group is working. Those include to stop further fragmentation of E.U after what he said the shock of Brexit. To make Europe more active, vibrant and stronger. To deal with big issue of migration. And to face the common challenges united.

Ambassador of Poland Mr. Piotr A. Opalinski congratulated Hungarian Ambassador on Presidency of the Group. He noted that regional integration is important for all members.

Ambassador of Czech Republic Mr. Jan Fury said that we will establish stronger identity of Central Europe. We are not rigid. We are open for cooperation.

The Ambassadors said that V4 seek partnership with all neighboring countries to work together for European integrity.  

Editor Tazeen Akhtar,during question answer session, asked that do you see any possibility of further fragmentation of E.U? Latest, we can not point towards any such thing as the French Presidential Election is seen in which the candidate who was inclined to Frenchexit could not get mandate from the voters. And about Migration, yes it is a big issue, central Europe is much worried for that because it can pose security challenges as well. So what is the strategy of V4 to deal with this challenge?

Mr. Istvan Szabo said that Brexit was surprising for us. V4 are factor of stability in Europe. We look forward to economically strong Europe. European Union curtailed its links with the citizens in the past. Contacts with citizens should be strong and active.

He said we have common position on migration and we are not satisfied with the present arrangements. There are different views in E.U on this issue. E.U has fixed quota for different countries. We think that they are themselves inviting more migrants. We reserve the right to keep our identity intact and our borders safe. People can come to our countries but through legal process. Border control is necessary for every country.

Mr. Jan Fury said that E.U needed U.K. We hope that we can maintain the relations with U.K after Brexit. About migrants, we offered different options to migrants from Syria and Iraq but they did not consider them. They ran away. Quota system is not good.

 

Mr. Piotr A. Opalinski said that the perception about Poland not accepting migrants is wrong. We are accommodating them. But if a country cannot afford to host them, they should not be sent to that country forcibly. 

talking about relations (trade and other) with Pakistan, the Ambassadors said that all members enjoy cordial relations with Pakistan and more avenues of cooperation can be sought with bilateral interest.

Ambassador of Hungary said that our oil and gas company MOL is working with 5 local partners fulfilling 14 % of requirements of energy for Pakistan. That is a huge contribution. In other areas,we are not satisfied with the present status. Hungary is keen to enhance cooperation. We have appointed two Honorary Consuls in Karachi and Lahore. One trade office is working in Karachi. At present the trade volume is less than 50 million .

Ambassador of Poland said that our country celebrated Pakistan’s first day of independence as our air force pilots were here at that time. They helped Pakistan in building its air force. We are proud of this cooperation and contribution. Polish oil and gas company PGNiG is working in Pakistan for 20 years. Our investments in Pakistan are increasing with the passage of time. Both countries are cooperating in Defence and Defence Production as well. Trade volume was measured 400 Million Euro last year with balance in favor of Pakistan, 90 %.

Ambassador of Czech Republic said that we have diplomatic relations with Pakistan since 50s. Our country established BATA Shoe factory, that is a famous company in Pakistan. We are importing leader and textile products from Pakistan. 

To a question that what are the problems in enhancing the trade and economic relations with Pakistan, the Ambassadors answered separately with respect to their countries.

 Ambassador of Hungary said that problems are on both sides. Our companies see grey areas regarding security matters. Negative news about safety stop them dare do business with Pakistan. We can tell them that do not judge Pakistan in security only. The companies have reservations about rules of the game, transparency and clear transactions.

Ambassador of Poland said that Pakistani businessmen community is taking interest in doing business with Polish companies and to open offices there. Polish companies are also interested. Security is an issue. Real image of Pakistan should be highlighted that is not as it is shown in news and media. 

Priorities of the Hungarian Presidency

The motto of the Hungarian Presidency, V4 Connects, reflects the significant positive impact of the Visegrad Cooperation in connecting the four countries in terms of politics, economy and culture, while also referring to the Presidency’s focus on our tasks related to connectivity: improving energy and transport links in our broader region, and working on a well-connected, innovative region ready for the digital age. Equally important is the V4 Presidency’s commitment to further improving dialogue, trust and cooperation between the V4 and other partners within the EU and globally. The V4 connects countries, governments, people, ideas and values in an inclusive and open manner. The V4 is determined to build on the power of connectivity in the broadest possible sense in order to find common solutions to challenges affecting the Visegrad Group as part of the broader European community.

Under the Hungarian Presidency, crucial issues such as the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the ongoing debate on the future of the EU, including the social dimension – with significant impacts on the European competitiveness –, discussions on the EU’s post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, Cohesion Policy and Common Agricultural Policy will require constant V4 coordination and proactive presentation of common positions. Meanwhile, the Presidency will strive for reinforcing the Visegrad Group as a stabilising factor in relation to current external challenges such as the migration crisis and the volatile security environment in our southern and eastern neighbourhood.

The Hungarian Presidency will focus on areas in which Visegrad Cooperation can deliver tangible results and added value based on specific common objectives in fields ranging from EU policies to global issues, in the following thematic structure:

1. European Visegrad

-          Dialogueonthefuture of the European Union and coordinationon EU matters

-          Cooperationwith EU partners

-          ResponsibleHandling of theMigrationCrisis

-          International JusticeCooperation

2. RegionalVisegrad

-          Intra-V4 Relations; ParliamentaryDimension; International VisegradFund

-          SupportingourNeighbourhood: Western Balkans and theEasternPartnership

-          Defence, Foreign and Security Policy, Non-Proliferation, Internal Security

-          Energy Policy, EnergyInfrastructure, Climate Policy

-          Transport Policy and Infrastructure

3. Digital Visegrad

-          Competitiveness in the EU: Multiannual Financial Framework, Cohesion Policy, Agricultural Policy, SocialDimension, Digital Skills

-          Economic policy, labour market, industry

-          Digitalisation

-          Science, Technology, Innovation and Start-ups

-          Agriculture, Environment and WaterIssues

-          Tax and CustomsCooperation

-          Economy and Society

4. Global Visegrad

-          V4+ Partnerships and Joint International Activities

-          Tourism; Promotion of theRegion

Priorities of Member States within the alliance

Poland

The Polish Presidency, concluded this July, focused on consultations on European issues, such as the EU's future, Brexit, migration, EU barriers and digital agenda, EU budget, future of cohesion policy, energy and climate policy, posted workers and innovations. Poland is placing great emphasis on the operational flexibility within the V4 forum. This enabled a dynamic response to the new challenges facing the changing international environment and the current EU agenda – primarily with regard to the Brexit issue and its implications for the future functioning of the EU.

The internal dimension of Polish priorities in V4 focus on highlighting the need for greater regional coherence, amongst others things by continuing the dialogue on developing infrastructure links (transport and energy) in Central Europe, in particular the North-South axis. It is invariably important for the Government of Poland to support the Visegrad International Fund (IVF) and its efforts to promote people-to-people contacts within the V4 as well as cooperation with non-governmental organizations.

In the area of security, the key objective for Poland is to support the implementation of the decisions made at the NATO Summit held in Warsaw in 2016. The Government of Poland is committed to joint measures undertaken by the V4 countries towards close European partners: the Nordic and Baltic states (within the NB8 format), the Eastern Partnership, the Western Balkans, and the Benelux. The use of the V4+ format in the implementation of foreign policy initiatives and sectoral initiatives was an expression of openness.

Czech Republic

The V4, Czech - German Strategic Dialog and the Slavkov Declaration are the basic pillars of the Czech interest for Central Europe. Non of  them competing the EU  and each other.

CZ strongly supports the Visegrad cooperation based on common European values and interests. Priorities of the the CZ V4 Presidency from mid 2015 to mid 2016 were: interconnectivity, regular/ continuous consultations on European issues, strengthening of defense and security cooperation incl. cyber security, cooperation in the field of energy, discussion about the future of the EU etc. The CZ also supports V4 + external activities towards the Western Balkans, in the framework of Eastern Partnership, with other likeminded regional groups in the EU and with different countries around the world.

TheSlavkov Declaration of January 2015. This trilateral forum between Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia aimed at discussing cross border, regional  as well as  European issues. The cooperation now focuses predominantly on boosting economic growth, employment levels, social policies and other sectoral bilateral agendas In the recent past, the links between the Czech Republic and Austria were somehow underdeveloped, so the trilateral agreement offered a good oportunity for them to marginalize historical issues and gain momentum for improved  cooperation.

Two topics are priority on the Czech agenda: Brexit andMigration. 

Brexit, and the protection of the citizens' rights, maintaining economic ties and alliances in the area of security and military are the Czech priorities while
 holding talks with the UK.Mandatory quota and re-distribution of migrants without any regard to their free will does not represent a long-term sustainable solution of the present migration crisis according to the CZ.However the CZ will not shy away from its responsibilities and is prepared
to make every effort to protect the lives of migrants. We provide healthcare and education to  Syrian children in  need and decided  to step up CZ aid to refugees in third countries.