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International Visegrad Fund

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Bratislava Declaration of the Visegrad Group Heads of Government for a Stronger CSDP

  1. We, the Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia recognise the significance of the European Council in June 2015 and reconfirm our commitment to strengthen the ability of the EU to respond to a rapidly evolving global and European security environment. The EU must be capable of meeting the challenges ahead and setting the global agenda.
  2. The upcoming European Council is an opportunity to assess the implementation of the December 2013 European Council conclusions and chart effective and feasible ways to achieve an adjusted set of ambitious yet realistic goals. Furthermore, the European Council should demonstrate the EU´s political determination to assume increased responsibilities and enhance its overall security as well as reaffirm its aspiration to be a global actor.
  3. The security environment of Europe is dynamic and unpredictable, with threats growing in EU’s imminent neighborhood and beyond. In the East, more than a year after the illegal annexation of Crimea, Russia continues to violate international law, undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and pose a challenge for the European Union and the security of its member states. In the South, a belt of weak and destabilized states now stretches from North Africa via the Horn of Africa to Iraq and Yemen, creating an environment conducive to challenges like unprecedented migration flows. In this context, we underline the necessity of a balanced and inclusive approach, addressing threats and challenges that the EU faces both in the East and the South.
  4. The urgency and complexity of these challenges demand that the EU act with unity and solidarity, based on a common strategic vision. The Visegrad countries stand ready to bear their share of responsibility for European security as a whole and play an active role in addressing the challenges in both the Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods. The V4 countries are fully committed to a stronger, more cohesive security and defence policy of the Union, including through enhanced regional security and defence cooperation. Among several successful joint projects, we highlight the creation of the V4 EU Battle Group that will be on stand-by in the first half of 2016.
  5. The future course of CSDP should be built upon achievable solutions with concrete ways and means required for their implementation. We therefore support the elaboration of a new European strategy on foreign and security policy issues by the first half of 2016. CSDP should remain the key element of this strategy. This document should match the ambitions of the EU with tools needed for their implementation. As the links between external and internal security are strengthened, more synergy is needed between CSDP and the area of Freedom Security and Justice. Effective coordination of different EU policies and reinforced EU cooperation with partners remains an indispensable asset in tackling contemporary and emerging horizontal issues such as hybrid threats, terrorism, organized crime, foreign fighters and irregular migration, border management, energy security and cyber security.
  6. Member states should be fully and transparently involved in the whole reflection and drafting process to create a strong sense of ownership. The Visegrad countries remain committed to cooperating closely during the ongoing strategic review.
  7. The sustainability of European security architecture depends to a large degree on a safe and stable neighbourhood. Therefore, we will continue to support political association, security dialogue and practical CSDP cooperation as well as economic integration of partner countries, particularly those within the Eastern Partnership, the Western Balkans as well as the Union for the Mediterranean.
  8. We reaffirm the relevance and importance of both military and civilian components within the crisis management toolkit of the EU. The link between security and development is a key principle of the EU's comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crisis management. In order to strengthen this concept and cover gaps in the current EU response, we support coherent, geographically balanced and effective implementation of the “Train and Equip” initiative, based on the recent Joint Communication “Capability building in support of security and development”.
  9. To maximise the impact, efficiency and consistency of the EU role in crisis management, we confirm our readiness to actively contribute to an EU-wide strategic framework for Security Sector Reform (SSR) by mid-2016. The V4 countries share considerable experience from successful reforms and Euro-Atlantic integration. While recognizing that a tailor-made approach in SSR remains essential for increasing the stability and resilience of partner countries, we underline that this project should be open to all relevant partners from the South and the East. We consider it as an important instrument of the EU toolbox to prevent and manage crises.
  10. We call for further enhancement of the EU–NATO relations. Synergy, complementarity and full use of EU–NATO cooperation is essential. We support ongoing efforts aimed at enhancing practical cooperation in countering the threat of hybrid warfare, including early warning, information exchange, strategic communication and cyber security. At the same time, we call for progress on harmonizing capability development between the two organisations. Ahead of the NATO Warsaw Summit, taking into consideration the deteriorating security situation in Europe’s neighbourhood, securing transatlantic coherence, partnership and solidarity gains additional importance.
  11. With regard to further development of defence capabilities, we support the activities undertaken by the Commission in CSDP–related research and back the EDA and Commission in their efforts aimed at supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by providing them with EU instruments and funds and promoting their access to supply chains. We recall that it is necessary to create the conditions, under which all EU member states can participate in and take their share of the restructuring of the European defence sector.
  12. We call on the European Council to remain seized of security and defence matters and take stock of the progress made and provide further political guidance in this area on a regular basis.

Source: Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic

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