On the effectiveness of Visegrad Four

An interview with Libor Rouček

Wojciech Przybylski, Libor Roucek
10 March 2016

Wojciech Przybylski (WP): You have just released a special report on Visegrad. Let’s talk about what is not in there – because it is hard to believe that many people in Visegrad can easily agree on everything. So what did you not agree on? Were there any disagreements about the report?

Libor Roucek (LR): There were no disagreements, but if we look at the Visegrad Four, the concept has been proven over the last 25 years that we are capable of working on issues that we do agree on.  However, there are, of course, issues that we do not agree on or have different points of view on, and those we just leave aside. I think that it has been very effective; in fact, it might be the very thing which exemplifies the effectiveness of the Visegrad Four. As far as our country is concerned, yes, we discuss everything. We agree on, for instance, current issues regarding the refugee crisis, and this will be briefly mentioned, but we will not elaborate on it. So I think we have produced quite a balanced report.

WP: So there is no dissenting or minority opinions?

LR: No, there are no minority points of view.

WP: So do you think this report is more informative for the internal Visegrad experts, for the V4 public or community or is there some value for the rest of the world? What is the purpose of it?

LR: The initial purpose was to write the report for the foreign ministers. So we did that, but I think it is more than just a piece of paper for the foreign ministers because this report will most likely stimulate discussion both in the V4 and outside of it. But because there is now so much attention concentrated on V4 and where it is going, as far as the refugees and other issues are concerned, and since there are some people – even diplomats – that have very little knowledge about the V4 countries and the functioning of the V4, the report could be very beneficial to them. So what we would like to do is stimulate the debate about the V4, not only in our countries but also with whoever invites us or wants to talk about it and say, “Yes, here we are, and we can explain many things, discuss them and perhaps even prevent some misunderstandings both now and in the future”.

WP: And could you mention one or at maximum three recommendations or ideas that should be applied by the foreign ministries or political leadership in the four countries of Visegrad coming from the report?

LR: The Visegrad Four is not some sort of alternative or replacement for either the European Union or NATO. The V4 cannot function without the European Union nor without NATO. On the contrary, we want to build a strong Visegrad region in order to make a stronger EU. Not to be some troublemakers within the EU, but to help European Union function better, to strengthen its role and make our common European position stronger in the world.

WP: Do you believe that the foreign ministers or prime ministers will take your advice very seriously?

LR: It is up to them. We provided them with the advice, but they are the decision makers.

Libor Rouček – former member of the European Parliament Katalin Szili, Commissioner of the Hungarian Prime Minister at the State Secretariat for National Policy