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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » March 27, 2013
In Brief
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Hollande, Merkel at Visegrad Group Meeting in Warsaw
March 27, 2013   
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French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a Visegrad Group meeting in Warsaw March 6.

The Visegrad Group comprises four Central European countries—Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic—and its meetings are usually attended by these countries’ prime ministers and defense ministers. The Warsaw meeting was the first time top French and German politicians were in attendance.

Hollande and Merkel joined Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, his Czech counterpart Petr Necas, Slovak prime minister Robert Fico and Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban during a meeting with Polish President Bronisław Komorowski.

Addressing the summit participants, Komorowski said that, despite resolute measures taken last year, the EU is still going through a rough time, marked by unemployment and people no longer trusting their political leaders. EU countries should address the crisis by strengthening the bloc and its institutions and currency, Komorowski said.

The four prime ministers talked to Hollande and Merkel, and, during a press conference after the meeting, Tusk said the summit attendees were keen to further boost European integration. “Just like our joint work in Brussels, this meeting shows that Central and Eastern European states along with Germany and France feel responsible for the unity of Europe and the future of European integration,” said Tusk. “We agree that European unity has to be built with three tools: monetary and economic union, competitive member state economies and a stronger European defense capacity. Those were the topics of today’s meeting.”

Visegrad Group defense ministers signed a letter of intent on establishing the EU’s Visegrad Combat Group. Back in May 2011, Poland was appointed to head the group, which would be ready for launch in 2016. The group will consist of 3,000 troops, with Poland contributing around 1,200.

The ministerial meeting, chaired by Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, also concerned joint work as part of NATO and the EU with a focus on the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy.

The Visegrad Group was formed Feb. 15, 1991, in the Hungarian city of Visegrad. That day, Polish President Lech Wałęsa, Czechoslovakia’s President Václav Havel and Hungarian Prime Minister József Antall signed a declaration to set out the objectives and conditions of stronger cooperation aimed at building democracy, fostering a free market economy and, in the longer term, joining the process of European integration. Until the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the group was referred to as the Visegrad Triangle.
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