NORDIKA Programme - Visegrad Group defense cooperation: what added value for the European capabilities?

This text is published as part of the NORDIKA programme, with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

In the last few years, especially after the introduction of the smart defense initiative on NATO agenda and similar in character pooling & sharing initiative within EU CSDP framework, countries of V4 have manifested strong interest in intensification of their cooperation in the realm of security and defense. It is by no means the first time when Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia try to develop such ties – efforts to establish and then stimulate their subregional cooperation in context of military and defense were triggered almost since the very beginning of Visegrad Group. In the past such initiatives brought rather moderate results. However, currently all countries seems to be much more serious about deepening their defense ties. High frequency of top-level meetings and the numerous “solemn declarations” issued after them could be a proof of at least political will to achieve qualitative change in the V4 defense cooperation, earlier not developed as it was expected or planned. Improvement of defense cooperation was among the priorities of annual V4 presidency of Poland, which ends in June 2013. And even if – as for today – the initiatives taken in the last few years still are not bringing many tangible results, the growing intensity of contacts and debates on various formats and level over V4 defense cooperation cause increasing expectations both among the participants of these cooperation, as well as outsiders. However, the actual possibilities of deepening, widening and accelerating defense cooperation within V4 are probably moderate at best, and the reason for that is not – as it is often said among politicians and analysts – lack of sufficient political will, but rather of structural nature. Moreover, governments of Visegrad countries seem to be aware of those limitations. Nevertheless, having rather short list of viable alternatives and being pressurized by such powerful factors like profound economic crisis in Europe, they will continue their efforts to stimulate V4 cooperation on defense, having in mind its current and future usefulness – even if limited – both from military as well as – more important – political perspective.

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