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Joint Statement on the Enhanced Visegrad Group Activities in the Eastern Partnership

V4 Prime Ministers' Summit, Bratislava, 16 June 2011

At the summit the Prime Ministers of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic (Visegrad Group/V4) discussed the Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy with the aim to strengthen Visegrad cooperation in the Eastern Partnership framework through joint activities and projects within the EaP multilateral dimension, including by reviewing the objectives and resources of the International Visegrad Fund (IVF).

The EU's Eastern Partnership project is a long-term foreign policy priority shared by Visegrad Group countries. The Prime Ministers underlined their strong commitment to strengthen the political association and further economic integration of Eastern European partners with the EU as well as to accelerate the process leading to a visa free regime. Since its launch two years ago at the EaP Summit in Prague, the EaP has provided an ambitious and forward-looking vehicle to achieve these common goals. They emphasised that in line with a "more for more" approach the partners most advanced and committed to deep democratic reforms will benefit the most from the Eastern Partnership. In this regard the Prime Ministers welcomed a recent joint Communication from the European Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and supported a new approach, based on strengthening the partnership between the EU and ENP countries. They are committed to continue the preparations for a successful second Eastern Partnership Summit in Warsaw this autumn.

The Prime Ministers acknowledged Eastern partners' aspirations towards European integration, stressing that Art. 49 of the Treaty on European Union is applicable to all European states. They expressed support for Eastern partners' efforts to this end and encouraged them to accelerate reforms which bring them closer to the EU.

The Prime Ministers underlined that the EaP offers mutually beneficial opportunities for both the Eastern partners and the Visegrad Group countries and re-confirmed their commitment to increase the V4 contribution to implementation of the EaP. They called for greater V4 synergy in their approach to the EAP. The V4 countries have undergone a unique process of integration and transformation, which Eastern partners could benefit from in their own integration and democratisation processes. In addition, lessons from building civil society in the V4 countries and their inclusion in governance processes are crucial for the Eastern partners. Visegrad co-operation could be seen as an example of positive multilateral regional co-operation across all sectors. Co-operation with and among neighbours allows those involved to tackle mutual regional challenges in the most effective way, save resources and enhance mutual trust.

With the aim of strengthening the role and activities of the V4 countries within the EaP and individual Eastern partners, and to foster further IVF programmes in the EaP framework, the Prime Ministers decided to establish within the IVF a new special program focused on the EaP countries "Visegrad 4 Eastern Partnership" (V4 EaP). This new V4 EaP program, reflecting key interests of both the V4 and the EaP countries, will be built-up gradually, starting with flagship projects in the following areas of: Democratisation and Transformation process; Regional co-operation; and Support for civil society. The scope of the V4 EaP program may be gradually extended to other sectoral topics. Flagship projects will be implemented in a co-operation framework including all V4 countries and at least two partner countries.

The structure of the overall budget, and participation in the V4 EaP projects and grants, including municipalities and local NGOs reflecting current IVF schemes and procedures, will be defined in the Terms of Reference document elaborated by the IVF and approved by the V4 Foreign Ministers by the end of 2011.

The Prime Ministers agreed to support the establishment of a new V4 EaP program by allocating additional resources, and decided to increase the current annual IVF budget by an additional annual contribution of EUR 250,000 per country, starting from 2012. They encouraged the IVF to seek other domestic and international donors and partners for parallel financing of the program.

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