Visegrád group

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Logo of the Visegrád Group. The arrangement of the four black dots corresponds to the relative location of the capitals of the four Member States.
Countries of the Visegrád group (dark blue) within the EU (light blue), from north to south: Poland Czech Republic Slovakia Hungary
Czech RepublicCzech Republic 

The Visegrad Group ( Polish Grupa Wyszehradzka , Czech Visegrádská skupina or Visegrádská čtyřka , Slovak Vyšehradská skupina or Vyšehradská štvorka , Hungarian Visegrádi együttműködés , sometimes Visegrádi csoport ), occasionally Visegrád states called and under the name V4 known consists of the Central European countries Poland , Czech Republic , Slovakia and Hungary . It has no formal or institutional structure, but appears as a "semi-official internal alliance " in the European Union (EU) and endeavors to exchange information and coordinate political positions.


Its name comes from the Hungarian city of Visegrád near the Danube Bend . The kings of Bohemia, Hungary and Poland met there in October 1335, namely the Hungarian King Karl von Anjou , Casimir the Great of Poland and John of Bohemia , who came with his son Karl (Karl later succeeded him as the Bohemian King, German King and from 1355 Roman-German Emperor Charles IV ).

On February 15, 1991, the Presidents of Poland ( Lech Wałęsa ), Czechoslovakia ( Václav Havel ) and Hungary ( József Antall ) met at Visegrád Castle ( Upper Castle ) and agreed on goals that their countries wanted to achieve as a group.


Until 1999

In Visegrád on February 15, 1991, the then founding states of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia made a declaration that they intended to solve the problems that were largely common after the end of the Eastern Bloc and the Cold War as cooperatively as possible. In this regard, the group, sometimes referred to as the Visegrád triangle, saw itself as a complement to the Pentagonale or the Central European Initiative , which was politically too inconsistent due to the membership of Western states ( Austria and Italy ). In addition to the common interests towards joining the EU and NATO and increased cooperation in the fields of culture and economy, the Visegrád group also dealt with technical cooperation and some questions of national minorities . The promotion of civil society and business contacts was agreed, but no institutions were created. Another meeting of the group took place on October 6, 1991 in Visegrád. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in early 1993, the new states of Slovakia and the Czech Republic became independent members. In November 1998, at a meeting in Budapest, the then governments of the now four states decided to resume cooperation in the form of regular biannual meetings.

Since 1999

With effect from May 14, 1999, the International Visegrád Fund was founded by the members in Bratislava . The fund is financed jointly by all members and supports, among other things, cultural networks and annually awards scholarships to students, doctoral candidates and scientists for academic exchange. International Visegrád Day is celebrated annually on February 15th at the initiative of the Visegrád Fund .

Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary joined NATO on March 12, 1999 , Slovakia (together with six other Central European countries) on March 29, 2004 (→ NATO eastward expansion ). On December 13, 2002, the accession negotiations between the EU (which then consisted of 15 states) and the V4 states (and four other Central European states as well as Malta and Cyprus) were concluded. They then joined the EU on May 1, 2004 . In addition, Slovakia is the only V4 country to date to have abolished its national currency and introduced the euro (on January 1, 2009) .

Even after achieving these important goals, the V4 countries maintained a common line in their foreign policy . In 2010 they opened a joint diplomatic mission in South Africa.

Despite membership in NATO, collective security remains one of the core concerns of the Visegrád Group. In particular, the sometimes tense relationship with Russia is an issue. Problems such as Islamist terrorism and the regulation of border traffic are also discussed. At the V4 meeting on May 12, 2011 in Levoča , options for setting up a joint EU battlegroup by 2016 were discussed. The unit should have about battalion strength and be under the military leadership of Poland. The formation of the combat force until 2016 was decided at a summit meeting of the four defense ministers in Warsaw on March 6, 2013.

Meeting of the V4 Prime Ministers (“Visegrad Summit”) 2015 in Prague, v. l. from right: Robert Fico (Slovakia), Beata Szydło (Poland), Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Republic), Viktor Orbán (Hungary)

In October 2015, while hundreds of thousands of refugees were moving towards Germany and Northern Europe on the Balkan route , Poland sent 70 officials to Hungary to strengthen the security of the EU's external border . This common migration and EU external border policy is particularly strongly criticized by Germany because it contradicts the permanent automatic distribution of asylum seekers to all EU countries by means of a distribution quota, which Germany demands .

On February 15, 2016, the 25th day the group was founded, the Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that in future the position of the V4 states within the EU was to be strengthened, as " the influence of the member states in the EU  would be multiplied by a group " .

In August 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was a guest at the meeting of the V4 heads of government in Warsaw. The governments of these countries ( Cabinet Szydło , Cabinet Orbán III , Cabinet Sobotka and Cabinet Fico III ) continue to reject any quotas with which the refugees arriving in the EU are to be distributed among the EU states. Such quotas have been increasingly discussed since the conclusion of the EU-Turkey Agreement on March 18, 2016 .

In July 2017, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a guest at the meeting of the V4 heads of government in Budapest. The final declaration of the meeting stated that the countries of the Visegrád Group wanted to “expand their cooperation with Israel in various areas such as economy, culture and counter-terrorism” and work to improve general relations between Israel and the EU. The following “V4 summit” was supposed to take place in Israel at the invitation of Netanyahu, but was canceled in February 2019 due to a dispute between Poland and Israel.

Visegrád Plus

The Czech President Miloš Zeman announced at a press conference in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana on April 3, 2014 that Slovenia and Austria would also take part in the meetings of an expanded Visegrád group in the future. On April 4, 2014, however, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry announced through its spokesman Gábor Kaleta that an expansion of the Visegrád group was not planned, and thus withdrew Zeman's offer to Slovenia and Austria. As an alternative solution in the wake of Hungary's negative attitude, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria launched the Austerlitz format for these three countries in spring 2015 . The first meeting in this format took place on January 29, 2015 in Slavkov u Brna (Austerlitz) in the Czech Republic.

Organization and consequences for the European Union

In the political and organizational sciences, Marcel Schütz and Finn-Rasmus Bull (2017) currently describe the Visegrád group as a kind of internal structural special form (in the case of the EU and its organization). Because there is no direct hierarchy in the EU network due to the egalitarian memberships (see principle of unanimity ), internal alliances of convenience such as that of the now prominent eastern states group are used instead. With such forms " one can speak of permanent alliances and temporary coalitions which can develop an internal structure of confrontation". The popular example of this is the Visegrád group, which as an internal organization provokes or results in a certain decoupling from the main structure (the European Union ). According to the EU researchers Schütz and Bull in their analysis, the Visegrád states are currently "connected in the principle of an internal opposition ". It is thus partially self-excluded, namely to the extent that it serves to secure its domestic political positions in the four nation states and local government interests. If the political expectations or demands of the majority union did not match the political ideas of the Eastern group, it would fall back on "its own representation as an 'internal alliance'" and thereby stabilize the internal alliance. According to Schütz and Bull, this confrontation regularly leads to complicated decision-making situations: After joining the EU, the members of the Union not only do not have to be integrated into a hierarchy, they “can also use opportunities, directly or indirectly, as far as possible, the obligations they have entered into towards the Union to be ignored without consequences ”. Schütz and Bull come to the conclusion that such a difficult decision-making constellation means an elementary organizational problem for the EU, but that the EU (this is a structural dilemma) has hardly any significant opportunities to sanction internal opposition. Sharp offensives endangered the existence of the EU, after all, the Eastern states could work towards an exit or even threaten it and thus destabilize the Union. Instead, the authors argue, informal internal alliances are tolerated (even if not always tacitly on the part of Brussels) because this opposition development in the EU ultimately means “an important resource for stabilizing its formal order”.

Key figures

Around 65 million people live in an area of ​​around 530,000 km² within the Member States. The joint GDP in 2017 amounted to around 975 billion US dollars .

Member State Residents Capital GDP per capita
( PPP )
corruption CO₂ emissions
per capita

Development Index
PolandPoland Poland 38,485,779 Warsaw US $ 29,291 51 3.8% 60 8.11 t 0.843
SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia 5,421,349 Bratislava US $ 32,110 50 6.8% 50 6.28 t 0.844
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic 10,521,600 Prague US $ 36,916 35 2.3% 57 9.60 t 0.870
HungaryHungary Hungary 9,908,798 Budapest US $ 28,375 70 3.7% 45 5.07 t 0.828


  • József Bayer: Right-wing populism and right-wing extremism in East Central Europe . In: Austrian journal for political science . tape 31 , no. 3 , 2002, ISSN  2313-5433 , p. 265–280 ( [accessed April 19, 2019]).
  • Kai-Olaf Lang: withdrawal from solidarity? The Visegrád countries and their reservation in refugee policy . In: SWP-Aktuell . tape 84/2015 , 2015, ISSN  1611-6364 ( [accessed April 19, 2019]).
  • Visegrád states . In: From Politics and Contemporary History . No. 47–48 / 2015. November 13, 2015.

Radio and documentary

See also

Web links

Commons : Visegrád Group  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Marcel Schütz, Finn-Rasmus Bull: Misunderstood Union - An organizational analysis of the EU . Springer VS, Wiesbaden, ISBN 978-3-658-17148-3 , pp. 23 .
  2. State Treaty of Visegrad of November 19, 1335
  3. a b Hubert Gehring, Laura Kirchner: Between common ground and national egoisms. Role and potential of the Visegrád countries in the EU. In: KAS foreign information. Konrad Adenauer Foundation , August 2012, p. 78ff. , accessed on February 28, 2019 .
  4. The Visegrád Group at a glance. In: Political Almanac. Richter Journalism, accessed on February 28, 2019 .
  5. ^ Daniel Kortschak: Joint diplomatic representation of the Visegrád states in South Africa. Radio Praha, March 29, 2010
  6. Zuzana Vilikovská: Visegrad Four to form own battle group by 2016. The Slovak Spectator (English-language Slovak newspaper), May 13, 2011, accessed on May 17, 2011
  7. ^ Peter Kiss: Eastern European Defense Review: Defense cooperation within the Visegrad Group. Unexplored opportunities? ( Memento of March 5, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) New European Democracies Blog, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC, February 25, 2011, accessed May 17, 2011
  8. 70 Polish officials are supposed to help Hungary with border security., October 16, 2015
  9. Marcel Schütz, Finn-Rasmus Bull: Misunderstood Union - An organizational analysis of the EU. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2017, ISBN 978-3-658-17148-3 , p. 23
  10. ^ Gerhard Gnauck: Closed against Merkel., August 26, 2016
  11. ^ Till Janzer: Merkel in Prague: good neighborly relations - whistles against a welcoming culture. Radio Praha, August 25, 2016
  12. ^ Summit in Hungary: Visegrad Group and Israel reaffirm cooperation., July 21, 2017
  13. ^ Visegrád summit in Israel canceled. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 18, 2019, accessed on February 28, 2019 .
  14. ^ Lothar Martin: Slovenia and Austria will take part in meetings of the Visegrad countries. Radio Prague, April 3, 2014, accessed December 3, 2016 .
  15. Expanding Visegrád Group not on the agenda. Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 4, 2014, accessed December 3, 2016 .
  16. Marcel Schütz, Finn-Rasmus Bull: Misunderstood Union - An organizational analysis of the EU . Springer VS 2017, Wiesbaden, ISBN 978-3-658-17148-3 , p. 22-26 .
  17. GDP (current US $) - Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic ( English ) The World Bank Group. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  18. ^ World Bank : International Comparison Program database
  19. List of countries by national debt ratio , 2017
  20. Eurostat, May 2018
  21. ^ Corruption Perception Index 2017. ( Memento from July 9, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Transparency International, February 21, 2018
  22. List of countries according to CO₂ emissions, 2013
  23. United Nations Development Program (UNDP): Human Development Report 2015 . German edition, published by the German Society for the United Nations e. V. Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, Berlin 2015, p. 246–249 ( [PDF; 9.3 MB ]).