Monday, 10 December 2018

Visegrad Four-Benelux meeting was historic, PM Sobotka says

ČTK |
20 June 2017

Warsaw, June 19 (CTK special correspondent) - The meeting between the Visegrad Four (V4) and Benelux's heads of government today was historic, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said and added that the countries "must try to understand one another more."

The V4 is comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Benelux is made up by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

They discussed migrants and the EU after Brexit.

"I appreciate it very much that the Benelux prime ministers arrived in Warsaw. It was not easy for them given the public opinion because a campaign against the V4 is often led in the West in connection with the countries' different view of tackling the migrant crisis," Sobotka said.

However, it would be a big mistake if relations in Europe were only limited to who is in favour of the migrant redistribution quotas or against them, Sobotka said.

Sobotka also placed emphasis on closing the gap between the standards of living and salaries in the EU western and eastern countries, while the Benelux countries had objections to social dumping and insufficient solidarity shown by the latter.

Sobotka as well as the host of the meeting, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo warned of protectionism.

Sobotka said the V4 and Benelux countries agreed on that Europe must focus more on security and defence.

They all are interested in Brexit damaging exports as little as possible and the same goes for the EU citizens living in Britain.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said "the future of the European Union depends on its ability of keeping the 27 member countries together.

"This requires ceasing tabling themes that divide us," Fico said.

"I wish very much that the future of the EU be not only painted by the French-German engine, but that it be painted by the whole 27," Fico said.

Turning to multi-speed Europe, Fico said a deeper integration of the euro countries is unavoidable, but added that it is important that the others can join it.

The V4 countries are against the distribution of migrants across the EU. Last week, the European Commission started proceedings against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland which reject the quotas approved by the EU interior ministers in 2015. This does not concern Slovakia.

ms/mr/pv

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor is not responsible for its content.