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Hungary concludes V4 presidency

The Visegrad Group is "worthy of respect" within the European Union, State Secretary Peter Hoppal said late on Thursday, ahead of the VeNegy festival concluding Hungary's one-year presidency of the group.

Hoppal told a press conference in Nagymaros, in northern Hungary, that the past year had been marked by the strengthening of the “culture of respect” among the members, and by “getting to know each other even better”, bolstered by summits, cultural cooperation and growing cultural tourism.

“Robust nation states can contribute to stability, peace and security; at the same time, peace and security can be served best if we avow to our multiculturality and cooperate within that framework,” Hoppal said.

Bence Retvari, a state secretary of the interior ministry and the region’s MP, said that cooperation between Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia “has no alternative”. “No matter what storms we must face … these nations can only be really strong if they stand together in Europe,” he said.

Krisztina Varju, a deputy state secretary of the foreign ministry, noted that Hungary took over the group’s rotating presidency “during the Covid pandemic and is ending it in the midst of another crisis.” Both crises have shown the importance of regional cooperation and solidarity, she said. The presidency’s motto, Recharging Europe, is especially valid at a time when “Europe needs to recharge and return to peace, stability and normality,” she said.

Marian Varga, an official of Slovakia’s embassy in Hungary, said Slovakia’s priority, as it takes over the presidency from Hungary, will be to boost economic and infrastructure development and ties between the Visegrad Group’s peoples. Cooperation within the group has been mostly informal, with low institutionalisation, he said. That format has supported cooperation for 30 years, he said.

Tibor Bial and Sebastian Keciek, the Czech and Polish Ambassadors to Hungary respectively, also attended the event.

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