Visegrad Group

The Visegrád Group, also called the Visegrád Four or V4, is an alliance of four Central European states – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for the purposes of cooperation and furthering their European integration. The Group's name in the languages of the four countries is Visegrádská čtyřka or Visegrádská skupina (Czech); Visegrádi Együttműködés or Visegrádi négyek (Hungarian); Grupa Wyszehradzka (Polish); and Vyšehradská skupina or Vyšehradská štvorka (Slovak). It is also sometimes referred to as the Visegrád Triangle, since it was the alliance of three states at the beginning – the term is not valid now, but appears sometimes even after all the years since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

The Group originated in a summit meeting of the heads of state or government of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland held in the Hungarian castle town of Visegrád[1] on February 15, 1991 (not to be mistaken with Vyšehrad, a castle in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, or with town of Višegrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The Czech Republic and Slovakia became members after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993. All four members of the Visegrád Group became part of the European Union on May 1, 2004.

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Historical inspiration

The name of the Group is derived, and the place of meeting selected, from a meeting of the Bohemian, Polish and Hungarian rulers in Visegrád in 1335. Charles I of Hungary, Casimir III of Poland and the Bohemian king, John of Luxembourg, agreed to create new commercial routes to bypass the staple port Vienna and obtain easier access to other European markets. A second meeting took place in 1339, where the new king of Poland was decided upon and the Visegrád Three (V3) group was formed.

Economies

All of the Visegrád Group have relatively developed free market economies and have enjoyed more or less steady economic growth since the revolutions of 1989. In 2009, Slovakia has adopted the euro as official currency.

The Visegrad Group is the seventh largest economy in Europe and the 13th in the world.

The most developed countries is the Czech Republic (25 500, - USD per capita), followed by Slovakia (22 000, - USD per capita). Poland and Hungary have both the 19 000, - USD per capita. Average for the entire group is 20 000, U.S. $ per capita.

largest economy is Poland (GDP total $ 727,086, 19 turn in the world). Poland was one of the more advanced countries of the Eastern bloc. Now it's industrial-agricultural state, with significant mining and quarrying. It has implemented a successful transition from a centrally planned economy to market economy. The main problem is particularly inadequate and outdated infrastructure and the large economic disparities between regions.

The main industries are mining, machinery (cars, buses, ships), metallurgy, chemical, electrical, textile and food industries. Benefiting the black and brown coal, copper, lead, zinc, salt, sulfur, magnesite, kaolin and minor amounts of oil and natural gas.

Regarding agriculture, crop production over livestock. Arable land accounts for nearly half area of the country, meadows and pastures 13% forest and 30%. Grown wheat, rye, barley, flax, oats, potatoes, sugar beets, canola, hops, fruit and vegetables. Poland is in the production of rye, flax, potatoes and sugar beet to 2 place in Europe (after Russia). They are bred pigs, cattle, sheep, horses and poultry. Importance and fishing. Produces the wool, honey and fish products. Is also significant logging.

The second largest economy in this group is Czech Republic (GDP of $ 258.959 billion total, 42 in the world ranking). Before the Second World War, the Czech Republic was one of the most advanced countries in the world. Subsequent 41 years of communist rule greatly damaged the economy. Yet this country's most advanced countries of the Eastern bloc. After the fall of communism, Czech Republic has successfully transformed to a market economy. Now it belongs among the 30 most developed countries (according to World Bank). The Czech Republic is a highly industrialized country. The main problems are corruption and inequality between regions.

The main industries in the Czech Republic include chemicals, machinery, food processing and smelting. Other major industry sectors are energy, construction and consumer. Less important are the arms industry or the glass, but which has a long tradition in Bohemia. Great importance for the export of auto industry also represented by Skoda Auto. Industry accounts for 35% of the Czech economy. The Czech Republic is produced per capita the most cars in the world and about the same amount as in Italy. It produces cars Skoda, Peugeot-Citroen, Toyota and Hyundai.

The key mineral raw materials mined in the Czech Republic are black and brown coal, on clay, clay, graphite, limestone and other building materials. Uranium deposits near the village of Lower raisins and there is only the extraction of raw materials in the EU. The South Moravian extracted oil and natural gas, but a larger volume of raw material is imported from Russia. Since one third of the country covered with forests, wood is also to export products.

It is grown mainly cereals (wheat, barley, maize), potatoes, sugar beets, other crops of flax and canola. Importance is also growing hops, fruit growing and viticulture. The basis of livestock is cattle, pigs and poultry, as well as beekeeping or freshwater fish (especially carp).

The third economy is Hungary (total GDP of $ 185.873 billion, 52 ranking in the world). Hungary was more developed economies of the Eastern bloc. First began to transform its economy. Now it is the industrial agricultural state. The main problem is generally declining economic performance and high debt.

The main industries are engineering, mechanical engineering (cars, buses), chemical, electrical, textile and food industries.

Grown wheat, rye, barley, flax, oats, potatoes, sugar beets, canola, hops, fruit and vegetables. They are bred pigs, cattle, sheep, horses and poultry. Produces the wool, honey and fish products.

The smallest economy is Slovakia (GDP of $ 115.098 billion total, 60 in the world). Along with the Czech Republic, Slovakia was the most developed countries of the Eastern Bloc. The first years after the revolution in 1989 have been stagnating. At the end of 90 years, the economy grew and attracted much investment. Today Slovakia is an advanced industrial nation.

For the Slovak economy is an important automotive industry. The Slovak is produced cars such as Volkswagen, Peugeot, Citroen and Kia. Another important industry is the electronics industry. Near the city of Nitra is Sony's Japanese factory. Furthermore, it has a factory in Slovakia and the Korean company Samsung. It is important to the metals, mining and quarrying and food processing industries. Slovak industry has good prospects and should be estimated over the ensuing years, rising rapidly.

Slovakia has a developed agriculture. It is grown here mostly corn, but also the wine, especially in Bratislava and the surrounding region Tokaj. In the Tatra Mountains and other higher elevations developed breeding of domestic animals - sheep and cattle. In southern regions, growing peppers, or potatoes in the north.

Demography

The population is 64,301,710 inhabitants, which is 22 in the world ranking and four ranking in Europe.

Most people is in Poland (38 million), followed by Czech Republic (nearly 11 million), followed by Hungary (10 million) and at least the Slovak Republic (5,5 million)

Rotating presidency

The country holding the Group's presidency changes each year, in June:

  • 1999–2000 Czech Republic
  • 2000–2001 Poland
  • 2001–2002 Hungary
  • 2002–2003 Slovakia
  • 2003–2004 Czech Republic
  • 2004–2005 Poland
  • 2005–2006 Hungary
  • 2006–2007 Slovakia
  • 2007–2008 Czech Republic
  • 2008–2009 Poland
  • 2009–2010 Hungary
  • 2010–2011 Slovakia
  • 2011–2012 Czech Republic
  • 2012–2013 Poland
  • 2013–2014 Hungary
  • 2014–2015 Slovakia

International Visegrád Fund

The only institution of the Visegrád co-operation is the International Visegrad Fund, established in 1999, with the seat in Bratislava. According to a decision of the prime ministers, the Fund has an annual budget of EUR 5 million since 2007 onwards. In 11 annual deadlines the Fund awards grants, scholarships and artist residencies.

Visegrád Scholarship Program

The continually expanding Visegrád Scholarship Program awards grants from the International Visegrád Fund for students of Master's or postgraduate levels. Students from the following countries are eligible for the scholarships: the Visegrád Group countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), also Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine.

Expert Working Group on Energy

In 2002, Hungary initiated establishment of an Expert Working Group on Energy. This expert group meets once or twice a year in V4 capitals on a rotation basis, and the head of the host country delegation always chairs the meeting.

On 27 April 2006, the V4 WG on Energy met in Prague with the aim of discussing recommendations for V4 energy ministers concerning topics negotiated at ministerial level meetings. The WG elaborated recommendations concerning four groups of problems:

  • Recommendations of general nature in the sphere of energy policy, including energy research and development.
  • Recommendation to consider development of emergency natural gas storage.
  • Recommendation to consider construction of new gas and oil pipelines and of new naval LNG terminals.
  • Recommendations in the field of interconnecting power transmission grids.

See also

References