Visegrad Group, Benelux leaders debate EU future, migration
PR dla Zagranicy
Leaders from four Central and Eastern European countries and the Benelux states discussed the future of the EU and relations with Russia in Warsaw on Monday, with differences visible on the hot-potato issue of immigration.
Polish PM Beata Szydło and Hungary's Viktor Orban in Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak
The prime ministers of the Visegrad (V4) Group, comprising Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, met their counterparts from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg after being invited by Polish PM Beata Szydło.
The meeting coincided with the start of divorce talks between Brussels and London.
Szydło described the talks in Warsaw as “honest” and “open.”
She added that leaders meeting in the Polish capital agreed that the European Union should play a greater role in security issues.
Condolences after London attack
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte voiced condolences to the families of ten people injured when a van ploughed into worshippers by a London mosque in an attack on Muslims on Monday.
Rutte also said the Visegrad Group and the Benelux countries did not always agree, for example on migration, but it was important to seek agreement.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, confirmed last week it was launching legal cases against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic over their refusal to accept migrants from states under pressure in the EU’s migration crisis.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in Warsaw that the migration crisis threatened the identity of Central Europe.
An interpreter cited him as saying: “Nothing is more important to Europeans from Central Europe than [our] identity. And migration hits the core of that identity. We cannot create a European migration policy as a result of which we as Hungarians would not be the same.”
The Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, said that dialogue was needed with Russia and that imposing sanctions could not be the only solution. But he added that EU countries did not accept Moscow's annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
In the afternoon, the prime ministers of the Visegrad countries made their way to the Royal Castle in Warsaw for a ceremony at which Poland was to officially hand over the presidency of the V4 group to Hungary.