European Western Balkans

Regional cooperation of key importance for BiH’s EU path

SARAJEVO – The EU Info Centre (EUIC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina organised a panel discussion on the topic ‘Regional Cooperation of the Visegrad Group and EU Integration’ with the Visegrad Group’s Ambassadors in the EUIC premises on 26 February 2016. Students participating in the discussion used the opportunity to garner valuable insights on regional cooperation of the Visegrad Group in the context of EU integration.

The Visegrad Group, also referred as the “Visegrad Four” or simply “V4” is an alliance of four Central European states – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – gathered to  further their European integration as well as to advance cooperation with each other.

Jakub Skalnik, Ambassador of the Czech Republic, the country currently presiding over the V4, explained the incentive behind the regional cooperation of the group. “This year we are marking 25 years of the V4. After the ‘fall of the Iron Curtain’ that effectively ended the division of Europe, there was a strategy goal for all our countries to return to Europe, and join the EU as our countries have always belonged to the European civilisation,’’ Ambassador Skalnik explained.

It is very important to say that the Visegrad group is a special political concept since it was not initiated by the politicians but by the people and dissidents from these countries in the late 80s,’’Ambassador of Poland Andrzej Krawczyk noted, while agreeing with the students’ remark that BiH can learn some valuable lessons from the V4 when it comes to regional cooperation.

The Ambassador of Hungary, Jozsef Negyesi described the V4 countries’ regional cooperation as very important despite the fact that all the countries have joined the EU. Answering the question from the audience, he has also called upon the students to work towards the BiH integration in the EU.

Road to the EU is not easy, but it is a learning process. This is your country and you are the new generation that can change the situation in BiH and the V4 countries are supporting you on this path,” Ambassador Negyesi concluded.

Mutual assistance during the EU integration process is one of the most important results of the V4 countries according to the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic, Jan Pšenica. “In the 1990s Slovakia was lagging behind the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary in terms of the EU integration process, but we have enjoyed the support, political and practical from our partners within the V4and, as you know, we have successfully joined the EU together,’’ Ambassador Pšenica said.

During the discussion, the students also had the opportunity to learn more about the scholarships available within the V4 funds and funds of the four countries respectively.

The panel discussion is one in the series of panel discussions with EU Member States’ Ambassadors that the EU Info Centre has been organising across BiH targeting civil society representatives, the business community, academia, students and other stakeholders involved in the EU integration process.

On the occasion of the Visegrad Group’s 25th anniversary, the EU Info Centre is also hosting thematic exhibition in cooperation with the V4.

The exhibition at the EU Info Centre, (address: Skenderija 3a, Sarajevo) will be open until 4 March, on working days from 09:30 to 17:30.

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