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The Visegrad Group (V4) is an informal, regional form of cooperation comprising four Central-European countries – Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The Visegrad states are united not only through their common neighbourhood and similar geopolitical situation, but also through their joint history, traditions, culture and values. The idea of the Group’s foundation was to intensify cooperation in the field of building democratic state structures and a free-market economy, and – in the longer-term perspective – to participate in the European integration process. It was established on 15 February 1991, when Polish President Lech Wałęsa, Czechoslovakian President Václav Havel, and Hungarian Prime Minister József Antall signed a Joint Declaration in the Hungarian city of Visegrad. The document sets out the aims and conditions of cooperation. Since 2004, all V4 countries have been member states of the European Union, and the Visegrad Group is a platform for exchanging experiences and working out common positions on issues which are essential to the future of the region and the EU. Apart from European issues, V4 cooperation focuses in particular on reinforcing the stability of Central Europe, exchanging information, and promoting cultural community and cooperation in the field of culture, science, education and youth exchange.
Cooperation priorities include the development of transport infrastructure, as well as the reinforcement of energy security in the region. The V4 also offers a mechanism of cooperation with third countries in the “V4+” format. Visegrad cooperation involves a host of actors: presidents, prime ministers, ministers, parliaments, governmental institutions, NGOs, research centres, academies and cultural institutions. The only fully institutionalised form of cooperation among the V4 countries is the International Visegrad Fund (IVF). The Visegrad Groups’ rotating presidency is held for a period of one year and its programme is approved by the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group countries. The Czech Republic is holding its V4 presidency from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 (http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/en/foreign_relations/visegrad_group/index.html).
For more information on the Visegrad Group, please visit the V4’s official website: http://www.visegradgroup.eu/