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Germany's Merkel To Meet Visegrad Four Leaders In Slovakia


German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks in Bratislava with the prime ministers of host Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to mark 30 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The German government said on February 6 ahead of the meeting that the political shift in the countries of the so-called Visegrad Four group "made a considerable contribution to the fact that German reunification could proceed in peace."

Merkel is scheduled to meet first with Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, then the two will join the others for lunch to discuss economic matters, foreign policy, and European issues.

"Germany is our biggest economic partner, and the talks at the highest level are thus extremely important," Pellegrini was quoted as saying by the TASR news agency.

Still, Merkel has received resistance from countries in the Visegrad Group -- particularly Poland and Hungary -- over her relatively open policy toward refugees, and some leaders in the countries feel they are being pushed around by Germany and the European Union.

Poland, the United States, the Baltic states, and several other EU countries have also expressed concern about the Nord Stream 2 project, the second gas pipeline linking Russia directly with Germany under the Baltic Sea.

It would avoid existing gas pipelines through Ukraine and critics say would increase Europe's energy dependence on Russia.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieck has called the pipeline a weapon of hybrid warfare that Moscow wants to use to undermine European energy security and the EU and NATO solidarity.

The Visegrad Four is a political and cultural grouping named after the Hungarian city where it was established in 1991.

Based on reporting by dpa and The Slovak Spectator
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