Steinmeier was invited to participate in V4 ministerial meeting in Bratislava few days ago. Beside energy security, development in the West Balkans and climate policy, the ministers mainly discussed the Ukraine crisis, Eastern Partnership and the situation in the Eurozone. Remarkably, such a V4 meeting with Germany is not an exception anymore but it is becoming more and more a political reality.
Talks about Ukraine conflict clarified that all ministers support Germany in its role as a main mediator: “We all very much appreciate Germany’s leadership in this matter,” Slovakian foreign minister Lajčák said. Additionally, the five ministers expressed their conviction that military action will not solve the problem. Diplomacy is the best answer to that crisis. Steinmeier added that Minsk peace process must continue.
Regarding the situation in the Eurozone and Greece the V4 clarified that European solidarity is important but to take responsibility is also necessary. In other words, a dept relief is not acceptable. In this case, Slovak Minister Lajčák supports the German strict attitude towards Greece.
Another topic of that meeting was the Eastern Partnership. Particularly the Visegrád states work on an improvement of European relations to these six former Soviet Republics. Consequently, as Czech foreign minister Zaorálek stated: “This is a thing which is for us of major importance – so that we can show our partners, who wait for a clear European position, a clear direction.”
However, the meeting also revealed that Germany is definitely the major strategic partner for the V4. In fact, political projects of V4 such as Eastern Partnership and European integration of the West Balkans are difficult to handle without Germany. Efforts to tie Germany closer to the Visegrád Group are therefore a visible realpolitische consequence.
Nevertheless, Germany for its part was long time not so much interested in the V4 because it was not convinced about its political significance. Indeed, the heterogeneity within V4 was and still is very distinct so that Germany rather prefers to talk with every single Visegrád state than with the V4 as a whole.
But Germany apparently begins to recognize some political meaning of this group which was expressed by Steinmeier as follows: “The Visegrád Group has proven to be a platform for profound consultations.” Thus, saying this in other words, Germany can imagine deepening cooperation with the V4. As a consequence, this allusion of Steinmeier could be a very interesting début for speeding up a dynamic integration of East-Central Europe. This might even be needed to resist the geopolitical pressure of Russia.