The countries of the Visegrad Group (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia) will continue to support Ukraine in defense against Russia as each country sees fit.
Ceremonial commencement of a two-day meeting of defense ministers from the Visegrád Group (V4) countries - Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary - on December 7, 2023. From left: Slovak Minister of Defense Robert Kaliňák, Czech Minister of Defense Jana Černochová, Polish Ambassador to the Czech Republic Mateusz Gniazdowski, and Hungarian Minister of Defense Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky. During the official ceremony on Thursday, V4 representatives jointly laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Photo by Ondrej Deml/PAP/CTK
On Friday, representatives of the Visegrád Group (V4) were joined in discussions by representatives of Slovenia, Croatia, and Austria, the remaining members of the Central European Defense Cooperation (CEDC), currently chaired by the Czech Republic (Poland holds observer status in this group). According to official announcements, the group of participants will be expanded once again on Friday, this time to include representatives from the Western Balkan countries: Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Kosovo.
"We will do everything in our power to prevent the downfall of Ukraine, even if, as representatives of different countries, we may have differing opinions on the course of action," stated the host of the meeting, Czech Minister of Defense Jana Černochová, after the conclusion of the talks. Representatives of V4 countries also expressed the need to strengthen the defense industry in their respective countries. "In particular, we call on the European Union to recognize the defense industry as socially beneficial and to support its access to funding from public and private sources," added the Czech Minister of Defense. The ministers also expressed support for Israel's right to self-defense.
In a joint declaration, it was also announced that among the priorities of the Visegrád Group will be the creation of another V4 battlegroup, with Poland as the leading country but with significant participation from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Representatives of the defense ministries of the four countries in the region also expressed the desire to organize and participate in joint military exercises.
The V4 countries are currently grappling with divergent perspectives, notably exemplified by Hungary's distinct stance on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, particularly regarding the provision of weapons to the beleaguered nation. Following his assumption of office, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has also emphasized Slovakia's disinclination to extend military support to Ukraine, opting instead to provide alternative forms of essential assistance to Kyiv.