The Visegrad Group
The Visegrad Group is an alliance of Eastern European countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) founded 15 February 1991 in Visegrad with the presidents of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland signing a “Declaration on mutual cooperation for further European integration.” The strategic goals of the Group were to fill in the security-economic vacuum created in the region as the result of the fundamental international political changes at the end of the 1980's, the renewal of national sovereignty, democracy and freedom, the liquidation of all existing social, economic, and value system remnants of the totalitarian system, the building of parliamentary democracy, a modern legal state based on respect for human rights and basic freedoms, and the creation and practical implementation of a market economy. An additional important motive was to coordinate common activity in the integration processes with NATO and the EC/EU.
This publication investigated the fulfillment of selected Visegrad Group strategic goals – securing a stabile environment in Central Europe following the changes at the end of the 1980's as well as the joint coordination of activities and common steps to enter NATO and the EU. The first analyzed strategic goal of the Visegrad Group was fulfilled with the active participation of member countries. Practical cooperation in the military-security sphere contributed to Czech, Polish, Hungarian (1999), and Slovak (2004) entrance into NATO. After joining NATO cooperation in selected spheres continued (support for further expansion, the exchange of experience in selected areas). In the sphere of the European integration process the Visegrad Group did not fulfil its original expectations. The accession of all four countries on 1 May 2004 was more the work of the countries’ individual approaches than the result of systematically coordinated joint cooperation. While the Visegrad Group held discussions on EU integration process matters, an individual approach was adopted on the majority of subjects. Political representatives of individual states were not able to find common ground on a number of preliminary issues directly influencing their integration ambitions. Therefore the idea of Central European cooperation in the sphere of EU integration was never fulfilled.