Prague, Dec 12 — The presidents of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, or Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and of Austria and Slovenia agreed at their summit in Prague on the need to diversify energy sources and distribution channels, they said in their joint declaration today. The declaration was presented at the close of the two-day summit.
The presidents believe that the planning and construction of the major energy infrastructure, including a north-south gas interconnection, should be accelerated.
Czech President Milos Zeman said each of the presidents contributed to the joint discussion. The "eternal" topics include a road connection of Prague with Vienna via the south Bohemian centre Ceske Budejovice, of Brno with Vienna, a connection in the direction of the Polish border and further to Wroclaw, Zeman said about the topics concerning the Czech Republic.
He said the debate also touched on a possible extension of the French TGV train operation from Frankfurt am Main to Central Europe.
For the time being, nevertheless, such debates are in a phase similar to the debate on the Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor, Zeman said, calling the latter project a dream of his. Zeman repeated that a study on the corridor project's feasibility is being prepared [by Prague]. It would be too early for him to ask the other presidents for support now, he said.
Nevertheless, he thanked his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski for support in this respect. Komorowski said he views the ambitious project as an idea for the moment. He said Poland has contributed to the idea by revitalising its river shipping. In general, Poland supports the economic use of rivers based on the principles of sustainable development, Komorowski added.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer said he can imagine the project better now that he visited a Prague exhibition highlighting it on Thursday.
Fischer said water corridors are an important part of infrastructure, but concrete answers could be given only based on the project's concrete data. Slovak President Andrej Kiska mentioned the need to build gas pipelines along the Hungarian-Slovak and Slovak-Polish borders, it ensues from the declaration.
He pointed out that Slovakia has put into operation a reverse connector and launched reverse gas supplies to Ukraine that may make the latter´s energy situation considerably easier.
Hungarian President Janos Ader praised Slovakia for building the connector close to the Hungarian border. This will enhance energy security, Ader said.
The presidents also discussed the development of transport infrastructure in Central Europe and they particularly stressed the north-south interconnection.
"The goal is to support economic growth and so raise the region´s share in the prosperity and competitiveness of all Europe," the declaration says.
Slovenian President Borut Pahor stressed the importance of the Slovenian port of Koper for the Central European region. Pahor welcomed it that Slovenia was invited to the V4 summit.
Fischer, too, praised the V4 summit's extension by the presidents of Austria and Slovenia. He said a number of problems cannot be solved within the national framework only, while the all-EU debate on them cannot be comprehensive enough.
The six presidents also discussed the situation in Ukraine and the fight against Islamic State, which, they said, poses a serious threat to the civilised world.
In connection with the Ukrainian crisis, Komorowski said he is convinced that the EU's anti-Russian sanctions are effective and the question of their further tightening is worth considering. The present extent of the sanctions may show to be adequate, Komorowski said.