Visegrad Four to present EU new Belarus support package
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia agreed at today’s meeting of the Visegrad Four (V4) that free elections must be held in Belarus and that the European Union should offer Belarus an economic cooperation program. The V4 intends to promote this approach at the upcoming European Union summit, the host of today’s meeting, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, announced at a joint press conference. In a joint statement, the prime ministers also condemned the attempt to silence the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.
“Free elections are the basis. We cannot force Belarusians to vote on. We cannot force anything on them. We must avoid the Ukrainian scenario. Belarusians must choose for themselves,” stressed Czech Prime Minister Andrei Babis, who, like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, praised Poland’s the EU’s “strategic approach” to Belarus.
This includes the offer of an economic program as a “positive alternative” to cooperation with Russia, as Morawiecki explained. “We all agree that free elections must be held in Belarus so that the Belarusian people can decide for themselves about their future. This is a unified position,” the Polish prime minister stressed. He also mentioned the possibility of visa-free travel with Belarus.
At a press conference, Babiš again faced the question of disagreement with the participation of a representative of the Belarusian opposition in a meeting in Lublin. He stressed the importance of raising the issue of Belarus at the EU summit.
“None of us are looking forward to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the speed of government response will be a decisive factor. I am glad that we have agreed on a coordination mechanism that will allow us to agree on future steps in a matter of hours,” Orbán said. V4 cooperation in this area. Babiš added that the problem lies in the fact that epidemiologists in the EU do not talk to each other. It is useful to improve this, and therefore considers it a very good idea to create such a commission at the V4 level. “We are each other’s biggest trading partners. It would not be good to limit ourselves because it would have economic consequences,” he said.
Matovič admitted that Slovakia is considering including the Czech Republic as a high-risk country, but the ties between the two countries are huge, so it will be necessary to decide on a compromise. “We would prefer not to have to take any action at the border,” he said. According to Matovič, the Slovak Crisis Staff is due to decide on Monday.
The Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Four also called on the Russian authorities to investigate the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, to identify the perpetrators and punish them. “Given the historical experience, the public in the V4 countries is particularly sensitive to any cases of politically motivated attempts to silence political opponents,” the joint statement said, urging international investigations into the use of a nerve agent, prohibited by international conventions.
According to the host, the prime ministers also discussed the imbalance of trade with China or aid to Greece after the tragedy that struck the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos.