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2002/2003 Slovak Presidency

Annual Report of the Slovak Presidency in the Visegrad Group (2002-2003)
The Slovak Republic, as the president country of the Visegrad Four group (July 2002-June 2003), intended to follow up its activities upon the previous results of this co-operation. The Slovak presidency programme of Visegrad co-operation consists of the pending activities, which begun during the previous presidency of V4 countries. The new activities proposed by all Visegrad countries was also elaborated to the Slovak presidency programme and continually implemented during the previous presidency year.
The Slovak Republic chaired the V4 in a very important period of the European integration. Results of the Copenhagen summit have given not only the V4 countries, but also all candidate countries the chance to become full-fledged members of the EU. Therefore, the entire work of the Visegrad Four countries during the presidency of the Slovak Republic was focused on fulfilment of the presidency priorities"Integration, Security and Prosperity". The program of the Slovak presidency emphasised especially the issue of the European integration as a main objective of V4 countries common efforts. During the Slovak presidency numerous activities within V4 framework took place.
  1. 1. Co-operation in the area of European integration
    • V4 Presidents met in Častolovice on 22 August 2002.
    • Meeting of experts to discuss the action program of the Slovak presidency. The meeting was held on 17 September 2002 in Bratislava.
    • Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the countries running the International Visegrad Fund approved the creation of the Visegrad Scholarship Programme on 22 October 2002 in Prague. The programme will give an opportunity to scholars from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in the study branches covering the extension of Visegrad. The other option for the countries joined in the programme will be the possibility to offer scholarships to limited number of students for a study stay in the universities/institutes abroad.
    • V4 contribution to the Working meeting of Representatives of Regional Mechanism in Strasbourg (Council of Europe) on 24-25 October 2002.
    • Meeting of the V4 Chief Negotiators on November 11 2002, Brussels - discussion about co-ordination of joint advancement in the final phases of negotiation at the entry of the V4 countries to EU.
    • Consultation of the Directors of the Analytical and Planning Departments of the V4 MFA´s plus Israel on 26-27 November 2002, Bratislava.
    • Meeting of the Prime Ministers during the 2 nd anti-flood summit on 1 December 2002 in Budapest.
    • Unofficial (autumn)Prime Ministers summit on 6-7 December 2002 in Slovakia (Červený Kameň, Smolenice). The Prime Ministers discussed the program of the Slovak presidency and issues related to the process of European integration. A discussion on perspectives of the Visegrad co-operation after the EU enlargement was initiated as well.
    • Meeting of chairmen of the Committees for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security and European Integration of the Parliaments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia was held in Bratislava on 12 - 13 January 2003.
    • Meeting of Speakers of the V4 countries Parliaments was held in Budapest on 13 January 2003.
    • Experts from Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad countries on the level of General Directors held talks about the institutional reform of the EU on 31 January 2003 in Bratislava. As a follow-up to this discussion Slovakia tried to organise a working meeting of government representatives of the V4 in the European Convention in Brussels in March, but did not succeed and the meeting could not have been realised.
    • Numerous informal meetings of the Visegrad countries representatives were held during plenary sessions of the European Convention in Brussels.
    • Time co-ordination of the referenda on the EU accession was set up within the V4 countries.
    • Discussion of the V4 National co-ordinators on the prospective of the Visegrad co-operation started (10 February Prague; 31 March Bratislava; 28 April Budapest; 20 May Warsaw). Their discussion reflected the fact of the V4 countries´ accession into the EU.
    • Seminar on the future of Visegrad co-operation after the EU enlargement, exchange of views among different experts and MFA representatives, 19 May Warsaw).
    2. Developing co-operation of V4 with third countries and regional groupings.
    • Slovakia organised a meeting of State Secretaries of the V4 countries and Ukraine on 8-9 July 2002 in Košice. The main subject of the discussion was the co-operation between the V4 and Ukraine in a wider context of European integration. The State Secretaries exchanged their views on co-operation in the format of V4 and Ukraine, on the Schengen border issues, including visa regime and cross-border co-operation.
    • November 4 2002 Prague - meeting of the Directors General of the European Sections of the MFA´s of the V4 and Benelux concerning the European Convention agenda (discussion about a structure of the future Constitutional Treaty of the EU, institutional reform of the EU and timing of next intergovernmental conference).
    • During the negotiation process following meetings of the V4 Chief Negotiators with partners from decisive EU member states took place:
      - June 2002, Brussels - the 12th Accession Conference on the Deputy level
      - 29 July 2002, Brussels - the 13th Accession Conference on the Deputy level
      - 18 October 2002, Brussels - the 14th Accession Conference on the Deputy level
      - 4 November 2002, Brussels - the 1st Informal meeting of Chief Negotiators with the Danish Presidency
      - 11 November 2002, Brussels - the 2nd Informal meeting of Chief Negotiators with the Danish Presidency
      - 26 November 2002, Brussels - the 3rd Informal meeting of Chief Negotiators with the Danish Presidency
      - 10 December 2002, Brussels - the 4th Informal meeting of Chief Negotiators with the Danish Presidency.
    • Co-operation of the V4 with Canada in the field of the development aid providing to third countries is proceeding gradually (implementation of the ODACE program /Official Development Assistance for Central Europe /with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA/).

      - Co-ordination meeting of the V4 MFA representatives in Ottawa, February 2003.
      - 2 nd session of the ODACE steering committee in Budapest, May 2003.
      - Preparation of development education strategy, (a Canadian consultant to Bratislava June 2003).
      - Preparation of development aid communication strategy (a Canadian Consultant to Bratislava June 2003).
      - Working visit of V4 parliamentary deputies and state representatives to Ottawa (June 2003).
    • Regarding the endeavour to extend the co-operation dimension with the Nordic-Baltic countries, Slovakia initiated a dialogue with representatives of the Swedish MFA.
    • One out of goals of the Slovak presidency was the intention to invite the British Prime Minister T. Blair to participate in a V4 summit during our presidency period. The idea stems from an initiative of Mr Blair himself, articulated during the official visit of the Prime Minister of Slovakia M. Dzurinda to the UK on 14 May 2002. Consecutively, a letter of invitation from Mr Dzurinda has been sent to Mr Blair. The British Prime Minister opted out due to some internal problems, as well as once again deteriorating situation in Northern Ireland.
    • Realising the then harsh circumstances, the Slovak diplomacy eased its efforts. Despite the invitation still pending and bearing in mind the importance of the internal V4 harmony, Slovak Republic left off its active endeavour and awaited the further development. However, It would be delighted to welcome Mr Blair in Slovak Republic.
    1. Market surveillance
    • The responsible institutions will continue to develop the transformation preparation of the rapid exchange system of information on dangerous products on market in candidate countries under the financial support of the PHARE project SR0104.01. The implementation of the project should start in October 2003 (Transformation of TRAPEX to RAPEX system).
    • The meeting of respective agencies was held on September 2002. Its main topic was the co-operation of non - governmental consumer organisations established for protection of consumers.
    • During the Slovak presidency, also the process of harmonisation of international agreements and treaties of economic nature with the EU legal contractual bases has begun.
    • The expert meeting concerning the market surveillance questions of V4 countries, Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria was held in High Tatras on 8 - 9 April 2003).
    2. Economic issues
    • During the years 2002 and 2003 meetings with Czech Republic (April 2003) and Poland were organised by the Slovak Republic, concerning expert consultations on V4 countries NDP´s and their possible co-ordination according to individual Sector Operational Program (SOP) and Regional Operational Program (ROP).
    3. Energy
    • Points concerning the co-operation in the field of energy supply are gradually implemented by the relevant authorities of Visegrad countries:
      - expert consultation and eventual preparations for co-operation in the field of maintaining stocks of crude oil and petroleum products,
      - expert consultation about the possibility for co-ordinating energy policies,
      - exchange of information on the actual issues of the energy sector especially on experiences of the market opening process and on the implementation of the acquis communautaire in this field.
    4. Tourism
    • During the expert meeting held in Prague in March 2003, it was agreed that below - mentioned goals would be implemented step by step in the near future. The meeting in Prague was a follow-up meeting of the Budapest session, where a working group on this matters has been established.
    • Working group will discuss:
    • Specific forms of co-operation, the formulation of cross-border programs involving the regional organisations of the tourism branch.
    • Possibilities for common TV broadcasting focusing on tourism related topics.
    • Possibilities for increasing the number of existing web site links of the Visegrad countries.
    • Promotion of the cross-border tourism co-operation with a special emphasis on Euroregions, involving the regional tourism organisations, and encountering the accessible financial funds.
    • Co-operation to increase the tourism flow between the Visegrad countries, by organising study-tours, presentations, participating at fairs in the four countries.
    • Co-operation to enhance the tourism flow from third, especially overseas-countries to the Visegrad countries, by elaborating joint tourism products, joint marketing plans, organising joint marketing activities in these markets.
    • Promotion of the tourism co-operation through the media by producing joint television programs and using the World Wide Web.
    • Setting up a working group to facilitate the co-operation between the Visegrad countries.
    • Sharing of experience, knowledge on the tourism development in their countries and creating of common tourism products according to the possibilities.
    • Organising the regular meetings to maintain the co-operation.
    • The expert meeting on the management of EU pre-accession and structural funds took place on 28-29 November 2002 in Budapest. The discussion focused on mutual providing of information on progress of individual countries in the area of preparation for Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds after the accession of the V4 countries into the European Union. Information on implementation of the Phare, ISPA and Sapard programs and the progress of the EDIS system introduction were also points of discussion.
    • The Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic informally cultivates the co-operation in the field of indirect taxes with experts of Ministries of Finance of the V4 countries. The main purpose of the co-operation is the approximation of law in the field of indirect taxes related to the V4 countries accession into the EU.
    • The Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic organised an expert meeting of representatives of National Funds from the V4 countries on April 2003.
    • Ministers of Defence met on 10 February 2003 in Tatranské Zruby.
    • Besides the already originated areas of co-operation /co-operation in the field of peace-keeping operations, high-level meetings and expert consultations on bilateral, trilateral or quadrilateral basis/, within the framework of running consultation mechanisms, the co-operation will be extended into following areas:
    • Co-operation in the field of defence industry.
    • Co-ordination in the fields of military procurement and research and development (R+D).
    • Harmonisation of activities related to current questions of military upgrading.
    • The Hungarian side organised the first working meeting of experts of the V4 countries Ministries of Defence on 27 - 28 April 2003, Budapest. Resulting of the negotiations of the V4 ministers in Tatranské Zruby on 10 February 2003, and on the basis of suggestion submitted by the Slovak side, ministers agreed on active co-operation in the areas mentioned in the NATO Defence Capabilities Initiative (DCI).
    • General Directors for the defence policy and international relations met in Bratislava on 30 January 2003 to discuss the content of negotiations of Ministers of Defence (10 February 2003), as well as topical issues of the security policy and PCC.
    • The co-operation in the area of personal policy continues. On autumn 2002 the meeting of General Directors took place in Hungary.
    • On 26 - 30 May 2003 17th. meeting of General Directors for human resources was held (Tatranské Zruby, Slovak Republic).
    • During 2002 the negotiation of the heads of personal management staffs of V4 countries took place. This meeting was organised by the Slovak side in Tatranské Zruby with the aim to exchange information on personal issues regarding the reform of the armed forces in V4 countries.
    • The 8th meeting of Ministers of Culture was held in Budapest on 5 and 6 September 2002.
    • Consultations and exchange of skills have been held on the ongoing basis, fitting the current needs and preparation or adoption of new and/or amended legal regulations. During the assessed period, the Slovak Republic co-operated with other V4 countries, mainly in the filed of cultural heritage protection and in the audio-visual field, even though activities were not concentrated on preparation of statutes directly, but particularly on the inclusion of monuments and historic sites into the UNESCO World Heritage List and on the initiation of certain standards aimed at the legal harmonisation with the European Union. The Ministers of Culture also discussed these issues at their meeting in Levoča in February 2003.
    • The 9th. meeting of Ministers of Culture was held in Levoča on 6 and 7 February 2003. The main topic of discussion was the future and opportunities for further cultural co-operation between V4 countries after their accession to the EU.
    • The information on the progress of organisational arrangements for the V4 folk festival in the Slovak Republic was discussed by experts at their meeting in December 2002, as well as in February 2003. Ministers of Culture also discussed this issue at their meeting. This year the Festival will be held during the Folk Festival in Východná from 4 to 6 July 2003.
    • The establishment of the Visegrad Prize and further steps were discussed on the 9th. meeting of Ministers of Culture in Levoča, where among other things the following was agreed:
    • The Czech Republic will prepare a draft awarding statute for the Visegrad Prize, The Slovak Republic will prepare a proposal of formal aspects of the Prize - title of the Prize, its shape (plaquette, statuette, etc.) and its artistic design, after the commentary of other V4 countries the statute should be submitted for approval at the autumn meeting in the Czech Republic and in 2004 the Visegrad Prize should be awarded for the first time (in case that the proposal would be approved by all Prime Ministers of single countries).
    • Expert meeting on joint PR projects in the EU countries (proposal of Poland).
    • There is an ongoing consultation between Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic and relevant municipal authorities in Čadca about the future development of the education at the bilingual grammar school in Čadca. The amendments of the bilateral treaty regulating the exchange of students should be passed.
    • The Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad countries established the Visegrad scholarship programme took place on 22 October 2002. The Visegrad scholarship programme started from the academic year 2003/2004.
    • During the presidency of the Slovak Republic in the Visegrad Four, a strong support for co-operation of V4 universities within the running exchange program CEEPUS (Central European Exchange Program for University Studies) was provided by all Ministries of Education.
    • The Democracy Support Research Institute in the Czech Republic organised the conference on "Systems of Education in Visegrad countries" on 29 April 2003.
    • The informal meeting of Ministers of Education, Science and Technology of the V4 countries and Slovenia was held in Telč, Czech Republic on 14 - 15 November 2002.
    • Expert consultations about the possible expansion of bilateral co-operation programs among the V4 countries and Slovenia were also realised in the second half of 2002.
    1. Youth
  2. Within the initiative "European children", the meeting of children of Visegrad countries was held in Visegrad, Hungary (April, 2003)
    2. Sports
    • The meeting of relevant representatives of V4 countries, focusing on the co-operation of young athletes of the Visegrad countries concerning the Competition of Olympic Hopes, was held in Warsaw on 24-26 November 2002.
    • During the conference of the European National Paralympic Committee in September 2002, the Visegrad countries agreed to organise V4 countries´ common sports events.
    • In terms of the co-operation agreement between the Paralympic Committees of the V4 countries, the first Visegrad swimming contest took place in Brno on 25-27 October 2002, within the non-governmental organisations co-operation.
    3. Drugs
    • The National Visegrad co-ordinators of V4 countries and Slovenia negotiated with the representatives of the UNDCP in Warsaw on 10-11 July 2002.
    • During the presidency of the Slovak Republic the Ministries of Interior started activities within the framework of the expert working panels focusing on education, management and information systems in public administration. Following issues have been touched during several meetings of the three working groups (as agreed and updated at the regular meetings of Interior Ministries´ State Secretaries):
    • In the Expert Group No. 1 - the issues regarding controlling and monitoring of self-government structures, the assessment of the process of decentralisation of public administration, modernisation of public administration with regard to the EU accession, competencies of municipalities. Last meeting was held in Warsaw, 14 -16 May 2003.
    • In the Expert Group No. 2 - the issues regarding the register of population and the identity documents, including the work on new standards of the identity documents/multifunctional identity documents in the EU countries and their use in the services of e-Government standards, the standards of managing the state registers and state record systems which playing a key role in public administration. Last meeting was held in Warsaw, 14-16 May 2003.
    • In the Expert Group No. 3 - the legal status of the public administration staff, the legal status of the self-government staff, training and education of the public administration staff concerning the duties resulting of the EU integration, measures taken by the governments of the Visegrad countries aimed at the development of a corruption-free operation of the public sector and public service as well as opportunities for developing the ethic system of public service.
    • The last regular meeting of the Ministry of Interior State Secretaries from the V4 countries, responsible for the public administration section was held in Warsaw (21-22 November 2002). The agenda of the meeting was focused on evaluation of previous activities of the expert groups and setting out the matters of further co-operation in this field. (The next meeting of State Secretaries is planned for the 4th quarter 2003 in Bratislava.)
    • Heads of Disaster Management and Civil Protection of the Visegrad countries, Austria, Slovenia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands met on 24-25 April 2003 in Bratislava at the meeting organised under the auspices of the Minister of Interior of the Slovak Republic with the goal to enhance the co-operation on regional level in the field of protection of civilian population against the use of chemical, biological and radiological weapons.
    • Meeting of the Directors of Border Polices of the V4 countries and Austria was organised by the Czech Republic, on October 2-4, 2002. Main topic: asylum procedure abuse as an impulse of illegal migration.
    • The expert meeting on practical and concrete questions of co-operation between V4 and Ukraine in the area of illegal migration and asylum was organised in the Slovak Republic on 18-19 July 2002.
    • The Working group on Combating Smuggling of Weapons and Nuclear Materials met in Bratislava on 25. September 2002.
    • The Working group on Combating Bribery and a Working group on Fight Against Trafficking People met in Vienna on 24 September 2003.
    • The Working group of the V4 Countries and Austria for Combating Extremism and Xenophobia met twice on 25 September 2002 and 25-26 February 2003 (Co-ordinator: Czech Republic).
    • The Ministers of Interior of Austria, the Visegrad countries and Slovenia met on the occasion of the Salzburg Forum, organised by the Ministry of Interior of Austria in July 2002.
    • The second meeting of Heads of the Police Forces from the Visegrad countries and Austria was held in Bratislava (15 November 2002, the first meeting was held also in Bratislava on March 2002).
    • Heads of the Police Forces from the Visegrad countries and the Kingdom of the Netherlands met in Hague on April 9-11, 2003. The representatives discussed issues related to their closer co-operation within the framework of the EU Police Chiefs Task Force.
    • The meeting of the Ministers of Justice of the V4 group countries took place in Szirak (Hungary) on 19-21 November 2002. The Ministers of Justice spoke about effective measures intended to fight against terrorism, about the legal framework of the probation in domestic laws and about the position of experts in civil and criminal proceedings.
    • Strengthening the co-operation on expert level has been ensured on an ongoing basis during the meetings with partner countries, sharing cross-border experiences at the same time. That refers mainly to the initial meeting regarding the preparation for taking over the INTERREG Initiative by the Slovak Republic (cross-border partners: Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria and Ukraine).
    • Based on the recent negotiations with Hungary and other V4 countries concerning the Structural Funds, particularly INTERREG, all touched countries expressed their support of common pursuing of interests, the Hungarian side came up with an suggestion of a meeting of the V-4 and Slovenia representatives on mutual information exchange and co-ordinated approach.
    • In connection to the upcoming EU accession of the V4 countries, meeting of partners for particular cross-border programmes are organised. Upon recommendation of the European Commission ("EC") Managing and Paying Units shall be established as follows:
      SR/PL - Managing and Paying Unit PL
      SR/A - Managing and Paying Unit A
      SR/HU/UA - Managing and Paying Unit HU
      SR/CR- Managing and Paying Unit SR.
    • Ministry of Economy of Poland and regional centres of relevant Polish "vojvodiny" have been added to the list of partner organisations, drafted in 2002, covering the V4 countries (CR - Centre for Regional Development, Czech Republic, Ministry for Local Development, Czech Republic; MR - Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hungarian Republic, Office of the Government of the Hungarian Republic).
    • All of the Task Forces were established in April 2003 for every single case of the cross-border co-operation within the Community Initiative INTERREG, where the Ministry of Construction and Regional Development of the SR ("MO CARD SR") is responsible for the direction III A (INTERREG III A).
    • The Management Division of INTERREG III A within the Agency for Regional Development Support, being a part of the Ministry of construction and regional development of the Slovak Republic, has been authorised to co-ordinate all activities concerning that co-operation by the means of relevant self-government counties in Slovakia and regional development agencies above all in terms of program documents preparation in the context of receiving of Structural Funds resources for this initiative. In the meantime first meetings of Task Force were held for all bilateral cross-border co-operations of the V4 countries.
    • V4 countries co-operation in the field of regional development continues according to the schedule planned within the framework of the catching - up - Programme PHARE CBC/INTERREG.
    • The meeting of Ministers of Transport of the V-4 Countries was held in Bratislava on April 3 2003.
    • The meeting of the transport experts with the aim to facilitate forwarding of trains involved in combined transports was held during the meeting of Ministers of Transport in Bratislava on April 3. 2003. All 4 parties commended the work of the group on the elaboration of a joint declaration, since the aim is to equalise the conditions for road and rail transport, so that they become equivalent kinds of transportation with connection to the north-south axis.
    • Co-operation at the border-crossing points, exchange of information on using EU funds and on implementation of acquis communautaire is continually provided through the expert meetings.
    • The 8th meeting of the Visegrad Group Environment Ministers was held in the Polish city of Gdansk on October 2002. The Ministers of Environment discussed about the current environmental issues focusing on the conclusions of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, about the preparation of the 5th Environment for Europe Conference of the Ministers of Environment, prevention of floods, implementation of the NATURA 2000 ecological network, international biospheric reserves including the cross-border co-operation and flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol. The Czech Republic's initiative in organising a summer school for the Visegrad Group countries orientated towards the official development assistance has been appreciated as well.
    • The Republic of Hungary organised a meeting of the V4 experts on exchange of information on financing the ISPA environmental projects under the EU pre-accession assistance on November 2002.
    • The Slovak Ministry of Environment organised already the 9th meeting of this kind. The 9th meeting of the Environment Ministers in Košice (April 2003) was held with respect to the preparation of the 5th Pan-European ministerial conference. The Ministers exchanged information on the national activities related to this conference known as the Environment for Europe Conference and they welcomed the accomplishment of negotiations on three protocols to the environmental conventions. The draft of the new Framework Convention on Sustainable Development of the Carpathians is ready for signature; this Convention directly concerns all the V4 countries. Its adoption will result in setting the conditions for a joint enforcement of the integrated management of the environment creation and protection, as well as rational exploitation of resources in accordance with the sustainable development principles. The ministers agreed to develop a closer co-operation in the future and to exchange experiences in integrating economic, social and environmental aspects into the policy of relevant ministries in order to achieve a sustainable development and to protect the biological diversity. Moreover, they emphasised the importance of a continual endeavour in the ecological network maps aimed at establishing a pan-European ecological network. On behalf of the V4 countries the Slovak Minister of Environment will communicate a statement on this matter at the Kiev ministerial conference.
    • The meeting of Ministers of Agriculture of the V-4 countries was held in Budapest on 24. April 2003.
    1. Veterinary field
    • The meeting of the negotiation group members called in upon the expertise in the veterinary field was held on October 11, 2002 in Svidník (animals´ health, food safety and food control, animal protection, laboratory diagnostics, border veterinary stations for purposes of experience exchange in the field of transposition and implementation of EU veterinary standards into the national legislation, main problems, solving proposals).
    • The meeting of heads of the state veterinary and food administrations of the V4 countries was held on October 11, 2002 in Svidník.
    • During the presidency of Slovak Republic continual work on co-operation widening within the Carpathian region and its veterinary subcommittee was performed. The co-operation focused on the field of mutual information on development of epidemiological situation in the area of individual V4 countries, mutual co-operation in implementation of emergency veterinary measures, mutual co-operation in settlement of crisis situations in the border regions.
    2. Food industry
    • There is an ongoing co-operation in the field of identification methods for food falsification and authenticity.
    3. Economy/policy
    • There is permanent co-operation in the field of agrarian and food policy, comparison of the research results in the field of agrarian market and its EU integration problems, exchange of scientific-technological information in the field of agrarian policy tools.
    • The relevant authorities were encouraged by the Slovak side to exchange information (commodity situation and view reports, green report, etc.), which should help to improve the information level on situation in agricultural resort of V4 countries.
    • The meeting of the Ministers of Health of V4 + Ministers of Health of Austria, Slovenia and Ukraine has not been yet organised.
      • During the presidency of the Slovak Republic, the testing pilot project of co-operation of the EU-EURES system within V4 sector of employment was realised. The main purpose of the project is the EURES system implementation in the border - crossing districts of the Slovak -, and Czech Republic, and the Republic of Poland.
      • The programme management unit at the Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic prepared the programme documentation EGUAL, of which the first version will be introduced in the end of June 2003.
      • Slovak presidency monitored the enduring interest of relevant authorities of the V-4 countries in establishing of working groups in order to open consultations on the unification of the methodology of the EU and V4 countries´ in the social protection statistics (ESSPROS).
      The Visegrad Group, with the trademark of the "V4" symbol, is a well-known structure in the enlarging Europe, as well as in the entire international community. During the last year accomplishment of the fundamental objectives of the Visegrad co-operation was met.
      Therefore, new principles and mechanisms of co-operation were due to imply into the Visegrad four countries collaboration in the close future.
      Nowadays Visegrad four is facing new challenges and opportunities in joined Europe. Visegrad countries welcomed the results of referenda concerning the will of citizens of mentioned countries to join the European Union. We hope that the historical national assets of the V4 countries and previous experience of mutual co-operation will be a significant contribution to our future in the common European home.
      Moreover, all Visegrad countries welcome the beginning of a discussion on the options for Visegrad co-operation in the enlarged Europe.
      In general, the majority of the planned co-operation activities were completed under the last presidency period of the Slovak Republic. It is fruitful to mention herein important of them, especially in the priorities "Integration" and "Security". In the priority "Integration", Visegrad Four achieved:
      - common agreement on time co-ordination of the referenda on the EU accession,
      - creation of Visegrad Scholarship Programme,
      - common will to discuss about the future of V4 in enlarged European Union.
      In the priority "Security", Visegrad Four achieved:
      - support for the NATO membership of Slovak Republic before the NATO summit in Prague,
      -development of defence industrial co-operation and in the field of internal security, the continual discussion of relevant authorities on the issues concerning implementation of regulation of European Union in the Home and Justice Affairs. Therefore, the member countries declared their full contentment with the chairmanship of the Slovak Republic and its work during the last period.
      Finally, at the summit of the Heads of Governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Slovak Republic, to be organised in Tale, Low Tatras on June 24th. - 25th. 2003, the Czech Republic takes over the presidency of the Visegrad Group for the year 2003/2004.
      Slovak Republic - Tále, 24-25 June 2003

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