Visegrad group’s solidarity in 2004–2014: tested by Ukrainian crisis

V4 managed to invent a sort of separate regional identity, distinguishing the group from the long line of countries expressing “European choice” as their priority.

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The Visegrad Four made good progress from its creation in 1991 until 2014. The V4 countriesachieved high standards in the field of human rights and democratic development, allowingthem to join NATO and the EU.

Sergiy Gerasymchuk for International Issues & Slovak Foreign Policy Affairs

No less an important achievement of the group was the fact that it managed not only to create effective mechanisms for the exchange of experience, sharing of good practices and lessons learned but also to invent a sort of separate regionalidentity, distinguishing the group from the long line of countries expressing “Europeanchoice” as their priority.

This success is even more impressive if the different sizes, numbersof inhabitants and international ambitions of the Visegrad countries are taken into account. Infact, it is a success story that is no less important than that of the Baltic states. However, theBaltic States were given much support by Scandinavian/Nordic countries whereas theVisegrad countries had to rely on themselves foremost and to a lesser extent on the UnitedStates – primarily regarding NATO-related issues.

During the period under investigation, the group had two high points – the first was in 1999when three of the states became NATO members (which was symbolic enough since thecountry whose capital was used to name the Warsaw Pact became part of North-Atlanticcommunity) and the second was in 2004 when Slovakia joined the Alliance and all fourcountries gained EU membership.

However, alongside the successes 2004 brought the Visegrad group, it was also a year of greatchallenge. The group achieved its initial goals and Visegrad leaders had to decide whetherthere was any added value to continuing the joint efforts and cooperation or whether it wastime to join new allies and dissolve the Visegrad group. The second option was more viablegiven that for the 22 years of its existence the group’s level of institutionalization hasremained rather low. The V4 has not established a secretariat or other interstate body and theonly V4 institution is the International Visegrad Fund