V4 parliamentary assembly: Fidesz agrees with Jobbik's motion

In its Monday session, the Hungarian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs had a constructive debate on Jobbik’s motion to reinforce and enhance the Visegrad (V4) Group. The motion was submitted by Gábor Vona, Márton Gyöngyösi and István Szávay.

As a commitment in his series of 18 election pledges called Vona18, Jobbik’s president and PM Candidate already announced that his party submitted a motion to establish a permanent joint Parliamentary Assembly for the Visegrad Group. As Mr Vona put it back then, the V4 Group had not been able to show real power so far but the joint parliamentary assembly “could add gravity to the alliance”. Jobbik’s motion also suggested to examine if the group could be enlarged, and named Croatia as a potential candidate.

Photo: Balázs Béli

As the submitter of the motion, Mr Vona told the Committee members that V4’s role had become even more important recently. In his view, the establishment of a permanent parliamentary pillar for the Visegrad Group would increase the visibility of the cooperation and equip the region with more lobbying power. Listing the common challenges, he mentioned migration, the debates on the EU’s future and the Slavkov Trilateral as well. Fidesz-delegated Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Zsolt Németh emphasized that Jobbik’s motion was in line with Fidesz’ and the government’s intentions.

Photo: Balázs Béli

However, he also noted that he regarded the motion outdated. Although the V4 Group had not had its own joint parliamentary assembly, the fact that the Speakers of the national parliaments had already agreed on setting up a joint permanent V4 cooperation forum for their Foreign Affairs Committees could be considered as the establishment of a joint parliamentary pillar, according to Németh.

In Mr Németh’s opinion, it would not be tactically advisable to officially target setting up a joint permanent parliamentary assembly at the moment. He added that they had already taken steps towards setting up a joint parliamentary assembly but they were faced with “great resistance” by the Czech party. Emphasizing that the Czech Republic had just had its national elections and the new government had not been formed yet, Mr Németh noted that Czech foreign policy was characterized by significant movement.

Talking about the potential enhancement of the Visegrad Group, he pointed out that Fidesz had an opposing view on the matter although they did not question Jobbik’s good intentions. The Chairman suggested that Hungary should focus on a “V4+” cooperation rather than enlarging the existing Group. He said there were some arguments for the enlargement but there were more against it.
In his opinion, V4 can only be efficient if it is not enlarged. Asserting that Fidesz was not against the content of Jobbik’s motion, Mr Németh stated they would abstain from the vote in this case.
Jobbik-delegated Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Márton Gyöngyösi welcomed the constructive debate on their motion. He expressed his view that the current situation would justify officially establishing a closer V4 cooperation, which had been functioning in an ad hoc manner thus far.

He named the migration issue and the Ukrainian crisis as challenges that call for a closer regional cooperation. Mr Gyöngyösi noted that there was a consensus in the Hungarian Parliament on the importance of the V4 Group, so the House should adopt their motion to demonstrate this common stance and to motivate the other national parliaments to establish the joint V4 assembly.
Fidesz-delegated Vice Chairman of the committee Mihály Balla repeated Mr Németh’s position and said that he considered the V4+ concept as the basis for the process.

Gábor Vona also welcomed the constructive debate and the general agreement on the common goal even though they had different ideas on how to get there. He suggested that the Foreign Affairs Committee or the government should come up with a motion that all political forces could support. Agreeing with the suggestion to involve all parliamentary parties, Mr Németh said they should jointly find the best way to reinforce the V4 Group. With four YES votes (Socialist MP Árpád Velez backed the motion) and seven abstentions, the Foreign Affairs Committee eventually did not put Jobbik’s motion on the Parliament’s agenda.

 

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