The Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, of the Republic of Hungary, of the Republic of Poland, and of the Slovak Republic met in Visegrad on the 10th of October 2006 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Visegrad Declaration.
While taking stock of the 15 years of V4 cooperation the Parties reiterated their determination to continue joint efforts towards the full realization of the objectives set out therein. They agreed that V4 cooperation has become a well-established and useful framework. It served for harmonizing positions and advancing common interests during the accession process to the Euro-Atlantic structures. Through its outreach and multifaceted initiatives, the V4 has been able to contribute to the strengthening of Central European identity, while enhancing the European construction at large. The International Visegrad Fund served as basis for renewing and modernizing cooperation through a project-driven approach, fostering people-to-people contacts and involving the civil society into the network of our countries' widening relationship, as well as promoting democratic values on the continent. The formal decision on the increase of the contributions to the International Visegrad Fund, as well as launching of the new V4 web-site by the Prime Ministers and the presentation of the book about the 15 years of cooperation contributes to those aims.
The Parties reiterated the commitment of the V4 countries to framing of their cooperation as it provides for an added value to the European construction, to influencing constructively the process of integration, to deepening dialogue with third partners. The objective of the V4 countries is to work effectively and successfully within the enlarged European Union, to contribute to its internal cohesion while paying due regard to both community and member state interests. The Representatives of the V4 countries stressed the importance of ongoing integration efforts and full participation in the European policies in this regard.
While discussing the issues on the agenda of the forthcoming European Council the Prime Ministers underlined that promoting innovation at European level is crucial for economic development and enhancing competitiveness of the EU as a whole as well as its Member States and welcomed relevant community and national initiatives in this regard. They stressed that energy security is of major and strategic importance for the sustainability of economic development in Europe and called for a more coordinated approach in this field.
The Prime Ministers expressed their firm support for the four countries joining the Schengen area in October 2007 according to the original timetable. If this target date that was set and reaffirmed at the level of heads of state and government at the European Council in June 2006 was to be delayed for technical reasons it could result in a serious crisis of confidence for the populations in the new EU Member States. The V4 countries should reinforce their cooperation in taking joint action in the EU forum to make the Schengen enlargement realistic as soon as possible.
The V4 countries recognize their special responsibility, as V4 partners and EU members, in promoting a culture of integration in the neighbouring regions. They believe that the EU enlargement process should be carried on. In this view, they welcomed the planned accession of Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January 2007, as well as the continuation of accession talks with Croatia and Turkey based on their own performance. The V4 countries will continue to provide assistance to the acceding and negotiating countries to their preparation for membership.
Making a distinct and effective contribution to the framing and strengthening of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy remains a top priority for the cooperation. The V4 countries remain committed to the deepening of cooperation between the European Union and countries in its Eastern and South-Eastern European adjacent regions and actively support it through the relevant European policies, as well as various multilateral and bilateral initiatives. The European perspective must remain open for the Western Balkans region, as reaffirmed in Thessaloniki. The Eastern European ENP countries should be provided with strong support for the implementation of their reform processes, and for the strengthening of their European orientation. The V4 countries expect the visa facilitation to have a positive impact on the contacts between societies across the borders, and are pushing forward for an early conclusion of related negotiations. At the same time V4 will continue to promote the issue of visa facilitation for certain groups of citizens of Belarus, such as students, academics and teachers, thereby supporting the development of freedom and democracy in the country.
Being fully aware of the EU's global role and responsibilities, the V4 countries support the development of cooperation between the European Union and its strategic partners within the Transatlantic relationship, enhancing cooperation with Russia, Ukraine, Asia and the Southern Mediterranean.
The Prime Ministers of the V4 have expressed their deep concern with regards to recent developments in the relations between Russia and Georgia. They hope the conflict will be solved respecting generally accepted international norms and rules.
The V4 countries strongly favour the continuation of NATO's credible and consistent policy on enlargement. They would therefore like NATO's Riga summit to send a strong positive message to countries aspiring for NATO membership that goes beyond the NATO's open door policy.
The V4 countries will continue to play an active role in different regional fora, such as the Regional Partnership initiative, CEI, and as a regional framework will continue to build intensive relationships with other groupings, such as the Benelux group, the Nordic Council and the Baltic Council.