The foreign ministers of the Visegrád Group including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, on Thursday met with the French foreign minister in Bratislava to discuss issues regarding the future, security and competitiveness of the European Union.
At a joint press conference with his counterparts after the event, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said the most important objectives for Hungary regarding the future of the EU are reviving the bloc’s competitiveness and security.
“We, central Europeans, have done extremely well in these aspects… so we are justified in making propositions,” Szijjártó said. Growth in central European countries has outstripped the EU average and its policies focusing on citizens’ security have succeeded in stemming the inflow of migrants, he said.
The bloc’s competitiveness can only be maintained through a robust inner competition, Szijjártó said.
Large countries should therefore refrain from passing regulations curbing the competitiveness of central and eastern European members, he added.
One such regulation would be tax harmonisation, which would lead to steep tax hikes in those countries, he said. Thanks to their strong financial and budgetary discipline, CEE countries can afford lower taxes, he said.
It is “unacceptable” that France should aim to “pass on” the effects of its “irresponsible tax policies” to Europe, he said.
Regarding security in Europe, Szijjártó said “it was high time” that the EU stopped “organising migration” and set about stopping it. Stopping migration is especially important now that the terrorist organisation Islamic State has been defeated and “thousands of mercenary terrorists are making their way back to Europe”, while tens of thousands of migrants are stranded in the Western Balkans, waiting for access to the EU, he said.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said the only solution to security challenges is a common defence policy. The bloc’s modernisation should be done in accordance with the will of its citizens, he said. He noted differences in the stances of the Visegrád Group and France regarding the EU’s enlargement.
Tomas Petricek, the Czech foreign minister, said that next to facing the challenges of migration and terrorism, the EU should also focus on the economic convergence of disadvantaged areas.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian called the talks between France and the Visegrád Group “fruitful” and pledged to continue them in the future.
Featured image: MTI