Visegrád Group to reject the idea of “mini-Schengen”
03. 12. 2015.
At a meeting of the Visegrád Group (V4) in Prague, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán welcomed as very important an initiative whereby the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia will establish a wider group called “Friends of Schengen”, as part of which every participant can contribute to the reinforcement of external Schengen borders.

At a press conference in Prague on Thursday following the V4 prime ministers’ summit, Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the V4 rejects ideas that might confine the Schengen Area – which enables free movement without internal border controls – to a smaller group of countries than the present wider group of Member States.

The joint declaration approved by the four prime ministers reads that “suggestions of this kind are not answers to the reasons of the current crisis, but divert political attention”. According to the V4, such ideas are “opportunist suggestions”, which put at risk the main achievement of European integration: free movement. They are therefore unacceptable.

Mr. Sobotka said that the V4 countries will suggest establishment of a wider group of countries called “Friends of Schengen”, as a part of which every participant can contribute to the reinforcement of external Schengen borders.

Orbán Viktor a visegrádi országok kormányfőinek találkozója után tartott sajtótájékoztatón. Fotó: Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda / Szecsődi Balázs
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called this a very important initiative and commitment. However, he pointed out that the Hungarian standpoint is that border protection is an “issue of sovereignty”, and as such it is a “national responsibility”.

“Hungary will accept assistance, but it will protect its own borders”, the Prime Minister declared. “We will not surrender this to any supreme or common body; it must stay within the realms of national competency”, he added. Mr. Orbán thanked his Visegrád partners for the help they had provided to Hungary in protecting its borders during the migration crisis.

The Prime Minister declared that the EU should provide Macedonia with special assistance, as the country has to face a huge burden due to migration.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico pointed out that Slovakia has an external Schengen border with Ukraine, which it is protecting properly. However, Slovakia is prepared to help – financially and with personnel – those countries which need assistance in protecting their Schengen borders. In this regard he highlighted Greece’s problems, because he believes that issue must be discussed.

Mr. Sobotka said that the four prime ministers also exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis. On this issue Mr. Orbán said that “it is an imperative for the EU to introduce a visa-free arrangement there”.

At the press conference following the meeting, Mr. Fico said that he assured Mr. Orbán of his full support for his suggestion that next year’s 25th anniversary of the Visegrád Group’s establishment should be celebrated appropriately.

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo said that the prime ministers also discussed energy union issues, and they intend to bring them up at the December summit of the Council of Europe.