Visegrad Group

Visegrád Group

The Visegrad Group, also called the Visegrad Four or V4, is an alliance of four Central European states – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for the purposes of cooperation and furthering their European integration. The Group's name in the languages of the four countries is Visegrádská čtyřka or Visegrádská skupina (Czech); Visegrádi Együttműködés (Hungarian); Grupa Wyszehradzka (Polish); and Vyšehradská štvorka (Slovak). It is also sometimes called the Visegrád Triangle, since it was the alliance of three states at the beginning - the term is not valid now, but appears sometimes even after all the years since Czechoslovakia dissolved.

The Group originated in a summit meeting of the heads of state or government of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland held in the Hungarian castle town of Visegrád on February 15 1991 (not to be mistaken with Vyšehrad, a castle in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic).

The Czech Republic and Slovakia became members after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993. All four members of the Visegrad Group became part of the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Historical inspiration

The name of the Group is derived, and the place of meeting selected, from a meeting of the Bohemian, Polish and Hungarian rulers in Visegrád in 1335. Charles I of Hungary, Casimir III of Poland and the Bohemian king, John of Luxembourg, agreed to create new commercial routes to bypass the staple port Vienna and obtain easier access to other European markets. No "group" was created at that time, however. A second meeting took place in 1339, deciding on the new king of Poland.

Economies

After Slovenia, the Visegrád group are the wealthiest post-Communist countries in Europe. All of them have relatively developed free market economies and have enjoyed spectacular economic growth since the revolutions of 1989. The Czech Republic in particular is now regarded a Western-style developed country.

Rotating presidency

The country holding the Group's presidency changes each year, in June:

International Visegrad Fund

The only institution of the Visegrad co-operation is the International Visegrad Fund, established in 1999, with the seat in Bratislava. According to a decision of the prime ministers, the Fund has an annual budget of EUR 5 million since 2007 onwards. In 11 annual deadlines the Fund awards grants, scholarships and artist residencies.

Initiatives

Visegrad Scholarship Program

The continually expanding Visegrad Scholarship Program awards grants from the International Visegrad Fund for students of Master's or postgraduate levels. Students from the following countries are eligible for the scholarships: the Visegrad Group countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), also Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.), Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Expert Working Group on Energy

In 2002, Hungary initiated establishment of an Expert Working Group on Energy. This expert group meets once or twice a year in V4 capitals on a rotation basis, and the head of the host country delegation always chairs the meeting.

On 27 April 2006, the V4 WG on Energy met in Prague with the aim of discussing recommendations for V4 energy ministers concerning topics negotiated at ministerial level meetings. The WG elaborated recommendations concerning four groups of problems:

  • Recommendations of general nature in the sphere of energy policy, including energy research and development.
  • Recommendation to consider development of emergency natural gas storage.
  • Recommendation to consider construction of new gas and oil pipelines and of new naval LNG terminals.
  • Recommendations in the field of interconnecting power transmission grids.

See also

References

External links

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