ON FEBRUARY 15, 1991 the President of the Czechoslovak Republic, Václav Havel, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Wałęsa, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary, József Antall, met in Visegrad, Hungary and agreed on the creation of an informal grouping of the three central European countries, the Visegrad Group.
The location of the meeting, which also lent its name to the group, provided a symbolic historical arch linking this meeting to a similar gathering, which took place there in 1335, attended by John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, Charles Robert, King of Hungary, and Casimir III, King of Poland. Both meetings aimed at intensifying cooperation and friendship among the three central European states.
The formation of the Visegrad Group was motivated by four factors: the need to eliminate any hangovers of communist rule in central Europe; the desire to overcome historic animosities among central European countries; the belief that through joint effort they would be able to achieve goals bringing about social and economic transformation and entering the European integration process; and a method to find common ground for the goals and policies of the governments.
Following the division of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Visegrad Group expanded to four countries, with both the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic becoming members.
Cooperation between countries in the Visegrad Group is not institutionalised in any way. Cooperation flows solely on the basis of periodic meetings of representatives from each country at various levels: from prime ministers and presidents to gatherings of experts.
A summit meeting of prime ministers takes place annually. One of the V4 countries holds the presidency between summits and is responsible for drafting a one-year plan of action. The only organisational support structure within the Visegrad Group is the International Visegrad Fund, which supports the development of cooperation in culture, scientific fields, research, education, student exchanges, cross-border cooperation at the local level and promotion of tourism.
The piece is part of the Visegrad Countries Special, prepared by The Slovak Spectator with the support of the International Visegrad Fund. For more information on cooperation between the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia please see the following document.
31. Aug 2009 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from www.visegradgroup.eu