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Visegrad Group leaders hold summit in Prague

Published : 17 Jan 2020, 05:49

  DF-Xinhua Report

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (from L to R) attend a press conference in Prague, the Czech Republic, on Jan. 16, 2020. Photo Xinhua.

The prime ministers of the so-called Visegrad Group (V4) of states plus the chancellor of Austria convened here on Thursday under the Czech presidency of the V4 group to discuss migration, energy and other issues.

   "The reform of the migration system must be based on the consent of all states," Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said after the meeting. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz echoed Babis by saying that the European Union (EU) should protect its external borders not only from undocumented migrants but also smugglers.

   The leaders talked about the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027) and agreed that less money should be spent by the member states on the EU's administration. Babis suggested that the EU could spend less money on security since most of its members are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

   On energy, the leaders had differing views. They criticized the development funds allocated to their countries for the purpose of eliminating coal because the associated terms do not allow beneficiaries to use the funds to develop nuclear energy capabilities. "We would see it as a totally wrong way," Babis said. Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shared these sentiments.

   However, Chancellor Kurz disagreed, telling reporters that his government sees renewable energy as the way forward. "It is important for Austria that the fund does not support nuclear energy but renewable sources," he said.

   "We respect Austria's position, but every country's right to an energy mix should also be respected," said Pellegrini.

   Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that his country's position was determined by the fact that Poland was still heavily dependent on coal. "Our partners in Europe understand that we need to take a longer and more complicated path toward climate neutrality. It will take longer and will require more resources," he said.

   Other topics broached included compliance with EU rules, including the rule of law, trade balance, and further interdependence among the V4 group members. Prime Minister Babis also brought up North Macedonia's accession to the EU, which he considers a major issue.