Representatives of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries and Ukraine—the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Miroslav Lajčák, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Lubomír Zaorálek, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Grzegorz Schetyna, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, László Szabó, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, met on December 16, 2014 in Kyiv to discuss the current situation in and around Ukraine, as well as the Visegrad countries’ support and assistance to the government and the people of Ukraine.
The V4 countries and Ukraine reaffirmed their strong support for the full and unconditional implementation of the Minsk Protocol and its Memorandum, as a basis for a sustainable political solution to the crisis, based on the respect for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. The V4 countries once again reconfirm their commitment to the policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation.
The V4 countries welcome the formation of the pro-reform majority in the Ukrainian parliament and the coalition government following a democratic conduct of the October parliamentary elections. The V4 ministers also concurred that the importance of reforms is critical and expressed hope that the new Ukrainian government will use its political mandate and the backing of the majority it enjoys in the parliament to introduce and implement the much needed reforms. The participants also underscored that all efforts should be made to restore the country’s peace and stability, and acknowledged the fundamental importance of the unity vis-à-vis the biggest crisis in Europe since the August 2008 conflict in Georgia. The V4 countries voiced their continued support to the efforts of the Ukrainian leadership to build a modern, democratic and united society, in which the rights and freedoms of all citizens, including the individuals belonging to national, ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, are fully respected.
The V4 countries reiterated their readiness to assist the Ukrainian authorities in preparation of a comprehensive reforms package that should be at the forefront of the new government agenda. Such package should be focused on strengthening of the rule of law, efficiency of the national and local governments, transparency of public procurement, state regulation reduction, and the fight against corruption and envisage a self-government reform that will bring the decision making process closer to Ukrainian people. Genuinely implemented reforms, as demonstrated by the V4 countries, will bring the country closer to the European Union and contribute to the realization of Ukraine’s European aspirations, which are duly noted by the V4 countries. The international conference in support of Ukraine of 2015 and the Riga Eastern Partnership summit of 2015 represent important milestones in this respect.
Further steps how to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, including through bilateral as well as the International Visegrad Fund toolbox were discussed in details, as agreed during the V4 presidential summit with Ukraine on November 16, 2014 in Bratislava. In this respect, mutual energy security remains among the top priorities. The V4 countries reconfirmed their readiness to support continued reverse gas flows to Ukraine during the upcoming winter months. Reverse gas flows from the V4 countries by now constitute circa 50% of the country’s national import. Also various forms of transitional assistance, inter alia transfers of the V4 countries’ experiences via the Eastern Partnership Academy of Public Administration in Warsaw or the Centre for Experience Transfer from Integration and Reforms in Bratislava, were touched upon and appreciated.
The participants recalled that the V4 also supports Ukraine through its International Visegrad Fund (the IVF) which, within its Eastern Partnership Program, funded by the V4 countries’ governments as well as non-V4 contributors makes annual commitments to Ukraine exceeding €1.3 million while tackling upon democratization, socio-economic transition, European integration, civil society building, regional cooperation, and providing regular training programs for the country’s civil servants. Ukraine today is the largest external recipient of the IVF’s scholarship grants and support programs for higher-education institutes.
The V4 countries will continue to assist via their official development programs, projects and grants focusing inter alia on areas such as democratization, good governance, SMEs promotion, regional development, the security sector reform and border control, as well as with humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian people in need, especially IDPs from Crimea and from the Eastern regions of Ukraine. By now, an equivalent of total amount of approximately €4.6 million was delivered by the V4 countries in addition to the EU financial support for Ukraine. The V4 countries also provided other forms of assistance in the areas of training, rehabilitation, demining, etc. In the run up to the Riga summit, the V4 countries will work intensively also in cooperation with the Latvian EU Presidency to enhance the people-to-people contacts with Ukraine with a special focus on introduction of visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens, once all requirements of the EU–Ukraine visa liberalization action plan are fulfilled, as well as on younger generation and civil society utilizing potential of Ukraine’s participation in the relevant EU instruments, in particular, Creative Europe and Erasmus+ programs. As of today, the V4 countries provided for circa 720 government scholarships to Ukrainian students.
The V4 countries and Ukraine decided to further intensify political and working level contacts, via bilateral channels, but also cooperation at the international multilateral forums.