Shortly after concluding their summit on 19 June 2015 marking the end of the one-year Slovak V4 Presidency, the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group held a joint panel at the GLOBSEC 2015 Bratislava Global Security Forum. Focusing on the future of Visegrad region’s economy and competitiveness, the GLOBSEC panel also included the OECD‘s Secretary General Ángel Gurría. Slovakia‘s Prime Minister Robert Fico and his Czech and Hungarian counterparts, Bohuslav Sobotka and Viktor Obrán also discussed energy issues, including geopolitics of Russian gas supply to the region via Ukraine, as well as hot issues on the agenda of the forth-coming EU summit: migration, the Greece crisis, and British initiatives for the EU reform. Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz who returned to Warsaw from the summit to cope with a mounting political crisis at home was substituted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Tomasz Siemoniak.
The panel emphasized that the V4 economies have been accelerating in recent years but also face a critical question of how to sustain impressive growth rates and increase their competitiveness. Better connection of research centres to industry, digitalisation of economies, energy security and reform of vocational education were also discussed as relevant subjects in this regard. According to Siemoniak, energy issues are vital for security. PM Sobotka, for his part, called for the diversification of available gas routes and sources, pointing out that it is more urgent task for Hungary and Slovakia than for the rest of the V4. Panelists agreed that keeping Ukraine as a transit country for Russian gas beyond 2019 is in the interest of the whole region.
On migration, the V4 leaders presented a common position rejecting the EC’s proposal for a quota-system distributing asylum-seekers across the EU member states. Hungary’s combative approach, which includes building an anti-migrant fence on its Schengen border with Serbia, was formally supported by other V4 leaders. According to PM Orbán, the Schengen area members are obliged to maintain the border security. Being overburdened by illegal migration coming in higher numbers than in Italy this year, Budapest cannot wait for the European solution and needs to fix its own border. In his closing remarks, Siemoniak underlined the message from Warsaw: on the EU level, the Visegrad Group is strong and that is how it would present itself during the European Council on 25 June.