4 European countries of Visegrad discuss security and fight against virus – Reuters
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Foreign ministers of the four European countries in Visegrad discussed cooperation to boost national economies and tourism after the pandemic and announced free travel between the Czech Republic and Hungary for people vaccinated against COVID-19.
Friday’s meeting in Lodz, central Poland, was hosted by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau and brought together foreign ministers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Poland currently holds the annual rotating leadership of the four nations of Visegrad. Hungary will take over on July 1.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that close cooperation between the economies, which were among the most dynamic in Europe before the pandemic, “will ensure a rapid restart of our economies”.
Szijjarto said the meeting approved free travel for those who have been vaccinated between the Czech Republic and neighboring Hungary, starting on Saturday. Such free travel is already possible between the Czech Republic and Poland.
“Vaccination gives us security and these people should be able to live and travel normally,” Szijjarto told reporters.
He said Hungary, which has been criticized by the European Union for many of its policies, is a supporter of a strong Europe that respects Christian values and a sense of unity.
Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said they had also talked about broader certificates from the European Union that would allow travel across the 27-member bloc.
Slovak Ivan Korcok underlined the need for wider cooperation in the service of nations, for example in the field of culture and national heritage.
Rau said the group should continue to support Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and other EU partner countries in the fight against the pandemic, but also in their ambitions to join the security organs and European and transatlantic economy.
He stressed that cooperation with the United States and NATO is the foundation of security in the region. He spoke at a time when neighboring Russia has stepped up military activities along its western borders.
Ahead of the meeting, Rau said climate policy and the introduction of new environmentally friendly technologies was another big topic for the four countries.
In March, ministers held talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels.
Ministers also celebrated 30 years of the Visegrad Group, a means of increasing political and economic cooperation in the region. Rau held the meeting in Lodz, where he was governor of the province before becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs.