Leaders of four Central European nations -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia -- gathered on February 17 in the Polish city of Krakow to mark 30 years of the Visegrad Group, an informal body of political and economic cooperation in the region.
The gathering at Wawel Castle in Krakow, hosted by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and attended by his Hungarian, Czech, and Slovak counterparts Viktor Orban, Andrej Babis, and Igor Matovic, was joined by European Council President Charles Michel.
In a letter for Poland's Interia.pl news platform and for the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet, Orban said the role of Central European nations is to help protect the European Union against “outside attacks” but also against “internal tendencies to build an empire” while guarding their own independence.
The Visegrad Four nations “understand their share of responsibility for the future of Europe" based on Christian values, Orban wrote.
All four countries are EU and NATO members. Hungary and Poland have often been criticized by Brussels for what is seen as political interference in areas like the judiciary and media freedom.
The Visegrad Group was founded in February 1991 from a declaration of cooperation that then-Presidents Lech Walesa of Poland, Vaclav Havel of then-Czechoslovakia, and Jozsef Antall of Hungary signed in Visegrad, Hungary.
The talks in Krakow focused on combating the coronavirus pandemic, EU climate and migration policy, eastern policy including relations with Belarus and Russia, as well as the development of the EU's Eastern Partnership.
The four leaders will sign a declaration outlining the goals of the group as well as a declaration on digital affairs.
Poland currently holds the group’s 12-month rotating presidency, which it will hand over to Hungary on July 1.