Cílem článku je analyzovat činnost Visegrádské skupiny (V4) v letech 2010-2014 ve sféře obrany a pokusit se zodpovědět otázku: Do jaké míry představují rozhodnutí V4 novou kvalitu spolupráce? V analyzovaném období Visegrádská skupina prezentovala změnu v přístupu k obranné spolupráci. Důkazem toho jsou: zařazení obranné spolupráce do Visegrádské agendy, prezentování společných pozic v této oblasti na mezinárodním poli, angažování dalších zemí v diskusi o bezpečnosti ve formátu Visegrádská skupina Plus (V4+) a především zařazení specifických cílů na implementování a vytvoření institucionálních struktur a procedur v obranném plánování. Změnu v přístupu naznačuje taktéž vytvoření Visegrádské bojové skupiny (V4 EU BG). Uskutečněné akce naznačují nový přístup, ale taktéž do určité míry vytvářejí novou kvalitu ve spolupráci. Novou kvalitu budou představovat efektivně dokončené projekty a společná pozice konzistentně prezentovaná v oblastech, které jsou nejdůležitější pro region a jednotlivé země.

ikona souborupdf, obrázek se otevře v novém okně


The aim of the article is to analyse the actions taken by the Visegrád Group (V4) in 2010-2014 in the field of defence and the attempt to answer the question: To what extent do the decisions taken by the Visegrád Group represent a new quality in the cooperation? In the analysed period, the Visegrád Group presented the change in the approach to the defence cooperation. The evidence for this is: placing defence cooperation on the Visegrád agenda, presenting common positions on this issue in the international arena, involving into the discussion on the defence matters other countries in the Visegrád Group Plus (V4+) formula, and, above all, setting specific objectives to implement and create the institutional structures and procedures in the defence planning. The change in the approach is also indicated by the establishment of the Visegrád EU Battlegroup (V4 EU BG). The action taken indicates the new approach, but also, to some extent, creates a new quality of the cooperation. The new quality will mean effectively completed projects and a common position consistently presented on the issues that are the most important for the region and particular countries.

Klíčová slova

Visegrádská skupina; spolupráce; obrana; bojová skupina EU.


Visegrád Group; Cooperation; Defence; EU Battlegroup.


Since the inception of the Visegrád Group (V4) in 1991, the security and defence cooperation between Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary has been an important element. It has not been an easy collaboration and its potential has not been fully exploited. Most of the planned projects and activities have not been implemented [1]. It has been restricted by plenty of factors, including a geographical location, different policies of individual countries toward Russia, a different approach to transatlantic relations and to the role of the United States in European security, or restrictions in military-technical cooperation [2]. In 1991-2004 the most important priority for the cooperation in this area was the accession to NATO and helping Slovakia in its effective integration in the North Atlantic Treaty. When Slovakia became a NATO member, and all the Visegrád countries joined the European Union, the intensity of the V4 defence cooperation declined.

The financial crisis, the introduction of the new cooperation concepts in the NATO defence capability development (Smart Defence) and the European Union’s Pooling and Sharing, as well as the leadership of each of the Visegrád Group countries in the EU Council (the Czech Republic – the first half of 2009; Hungary and Poland [3] in 2011) [4], gave a new impetus for the cooperation between the Visegrád Group countries in 2010.

The purpose of this article is to analyse the actions taken by the Visegrád Group regarding the security and defence cooperation in 2010-2014 [5]. The chronological framework is marked by the year 2010, the development of the EU Pooling and Sharing initiative [6] and the increased involvement in the Visegrád cooperation. The research question is: “To what extent do the decisions taken by the Visegrád Group represent a new quality in the cooperation?”

The hypotheses:

  1. specific objectives of the Visegrád defence cooperation have been indicated;
  2. new defence planning institutional and procedural structures have been established.

The analysis based on the content analysis will be made at the regional (continental) [7] level. The analysis subject is the Visegrád Group and the individual Visegrád countries, while its object are their joint decisions presented in the Visegrád Group documents. The analysis concerns the Visegrád Group documents (presidency programs, declarations, joint statements, joint performances of Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers of the Visegrád Group countries), especially the following ones: Long Term Vision of the Visegrád Countries on Deepening their Defence Cooperation March 12, 2014 [8], Framework for an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation [9] and Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of the V4 EU BG [10]. The article consists of three chapters, the text of which follows directly from the hypotheses. Establishment of cooperation objectives, including the establishment of the Visegrád Battle Group, as well as defence planning cooperation seem to be a sight of the new quality in the V4 cooperation.


The international cooperation on the development of security and defence capabilities is not easy. It requires the ability to determine the common objectives, then to negotiate them, and to implement changes in the legislation, procedures and doctrines. This cooperation is exposed to a number of challenges, including political (to maintain the sovereignty and the protection of the national industry), legal (legal regulations that preclude the cooperation), financial (limited available funding and avoiding the free-rider effect) and military (guaranteed access to the defence capabilities and security of supplies) [11].

As it has already been indicated, due to the financial crisis, the introduction of the new cooperation concepts in the NATO defence capability development and the European Union’s (Pooling and Sharing), as well as the leadership of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland in the Council of the European Union, the Visegrád countries decided to get involved in a greater defence cooperation. They began it – in the political aspect – during the discussion on a new NATO Strategic Concept adopted at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 [12]. The Visegrád countries, then working closely, reached their goal, i.e. to ensure that NATO, taking on new responsibilities, would still ensure the implementation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty [13]. After 2010 a significant increase in meetings of the Visegrád representatives on the defence topic in the analysed period can be noticed.

Table 1: The most important meetings of the Visegrád Group representatives regarding the security cooperation

Date / placeMeeting level
The final document
21–22.6.2010V4 Chiefs of Defence StaffV4 
30.9.2010MON Political DirectorsV4 
9.12.2010National Armament DirectorsV4 
13.12.2010MON Political DirectorsV4 
Chiefs of DefenceV4 + Ukraine 
MON Political Directors    
12.5. 2011 Levoča
V4Agreement of the Defence Ministers on creating a joint EU battlegroup
National Armament DirectorsV4 
18.4.2012 Prague
MON, MSZV4Declaration For a More Effective and
Stronger Common Security and Defence Policy
13.4.2012 MikulovChiefs of StaffV4 
3-4.5.2012 LitoměřiceMONV4Joint Communiqué of the Ministers of Defence of the Visegrád Group
20.2.2013 Gdańsk
MSZV4 + Nordic + Baltic statesCo-Chair‘s Statement (Polish and Swedish MFAs)
6.3.2013 WarsawMON
V4 + The Weimar Triangle (France, Germany)Joint statement Cooperation in developing Capabilities, Solidarity in Sharing Responsibilities
18.4.2013 Bratislava
MSZV4Declaration For a More Effective and Stronger Common Security and Defence Policy
4.6.2013 Brussels
MONV4Joint statement of the V4 Ministers of Defence
14.10.2013 Budapest
Prime MinistersV4Budapest Joint Statement of the Visegrád Group Heads of Government on Strengthening the V4 Security and Defence Cooperation
14.3.2014 Budapest
MONV4Long-term Vision of the Visegrád Countries on Deepening Their Defence CooperationFramework for an Enhanced V4 Defence Cooperation
Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of the V4 EU BG
MONV4Terms of Reference of the V4 Planning Group. Annex B to the Framework for an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation
December 2014
MONV4Annex C to the Framework for an Enhanced V4 Defence Planning Cooperation. Standards of Participation in Each Other‘s Bilateral Meetings and Joint Consultations with NATO and the Terms of the Exchange of Defence Planning Experts

Source: Official website of the Visegrád Group,, the Polish Ministry of National Defence,; the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic,

The analysis of the documents of the meetings shows that, in fact, until October 2013 and issuing Budapest Joint Statement of the Visegrád Group Heads of Government On Strengthening the V4 Security and Defence Cooperation by the Prime Ministers [14], their current results were restricted mainly to the manifestation of political will and expression of the enthusiasm for the cooperation within the V4. The meetings also served as an opportunity to formulate and clarify common positions on NATO and the EU in terms of security. This aspect should be viewed positively. The joint performances helped to increase their influence in NATO and the EU and ensured the national interest implementation. It would be difficult to achieve if the countries acted solo [15]. Most importantly, at that time, the Visegrád countries, despite the declaration of political support for NATO and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), did not implement any common project together within the EU Pooling & Sharing initiatives, while within NATO’s Smart Defence they cooperated only in two projects [16].

The Visegrád Group in the analysed period participated in a variety of V4+ meetings with third parties/countries (e.g. The Weimar Triangle, the Scandinavian countries). They reinforced the consistency of the Group, on the one hand, and its brand internationally, on the other hand. According to Wojciech Lorenz, the cooperation between Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia was not expressed in practical initiatives, even though it noted some political success [17].

Although the discussions on the Visegrád Battlegroup development were conducted, no constructive and binding talks were undertaken until the issue of the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of the V4 EU BG in March 2014 [18]. As noted by Marek Madej, the Visegrád Group countries, through frequent high-level meetings, managed to show good will and determination to promote cooperation, but at the same time, they showed limited abilities to present a comprehensive strategy and a detailed program of its implementation [19].

For the activities jointly undertaken internationally to produce positive results for the Visegrád countries – the strengthening of both the position of individual countries and of the Group itself – it is necessary to present a common position in the issues most important for the Central European region and for the individual countries. The Visegrád Group countries should not present competitive solutions or act against another Visegrád country in their individual speeches. If the Visegrád defence cooperation is to be of a new quality, the beginning of the defence consultations before the NATO and EU summits should end by adopting a common position. There cannot be a cacophony in the Visegrád Group if a new quality in this matter is to occur. The existing work in this area – despite some positives – is not satisfactory and it faces problems, as evidenced by the lack of a common position of the V4 countries at the NATO summit in Newport on the issue of Ukrainian-Russian conflict in September 2014 [20].

A different approach of the Visegrád Group can be seen in Budapest’s Statement in October 2013 [21], in which the Prime Ministers called the Ministers of Defence to develop a long-term vision of a common strategy for security cooperation aiming to strengthen the capability building activities; to explore the possibility of creating a framework for a greater defence planning cooperation; to strengthen the training and exercise cooperation of the armed forces [22]. In the Visegrád cooperation, a departure from the political and declarative purposes to specific and practical ones is noticeable. They are presented in the Long Term Vision of the Visegrád countries on Deepening their Defence Cooperation from March 2014. The Ministers of Defence specified three practical objectives to be achieved:

  1. the development of capabilities, procurement and defence industry through the increased defence planning cooperation and the adoption of the rule that the possibility of a joint or coordinated procurement is to be checked first;
  2. the creation of multinational units and conducting cross-border activities based, among others, on the experience of the preparatory period of the Visegrád Battlegroup establishment;
  3. to strengthen the education, training and exercises cooperation based on the Visegrád Group VIGMILEP Military Educational Program and the annual joint military exercises [23].

The Long-term Action Plan, which is to serve as a support in implementing the objectives, aims to provide a description of specific joint projects and initiatives. The progress on the task implementation is subject to an annual assessment carried out by Defence Ministers. A written record stating that a plan of action is to remain a “living” document subject to regular changes seems good. Moreover, the Long-term Action Plan should be reflected in the annual V4 presidency programs [24].

The objectives set by the Visegrád Group seem to be moderate. The moderation and concreteness of the aims create a greater chance of their implementation. This is due to two issues:

  1. a political one and
  2. an economic one.

Military cooperation is politically sensitive. Taking into account the different interests, needs and motives of individual Visegrád Group countries [25], a high level of political consensus should not be threatened by too excessive military ambitions. The awareness of the Visegrád Group’s earlier failures and of the functional mechanisms of a non-constituted regional organization involve the objectives not to be too ambitious, according to the idea that “the best is the enemy of the good”. It is therefore reasonable that the Visegrád countries begin their closer cooperation with less controversial objectives, which contribute to creating trust between the partners. In addition, the countries do not lose sight of the main objective of the national military capability development, namely the participation in the defence mechanisms and in NATO and EU operations [26]. The Visegrád defence cooperation is to be considered in this matter as value added.

The moderate goals also result from the fact that there is a significant difference in military potential between Poland and other Visegrád Group countries, which may hinder a more advanced cooperation. Since the outbreak of the economic and fiscal crisis in 2008, the Czech Republic has reduced the military spending by 16%, Slovakia by 22% and Hungary by as much as 29%. These countries allocate respectively 1%, 1.1% and 0.8% of their GDP on defence and only 10% of their budgets on modernizations in the armed forces, which does not allow for large modernization investments in the coming years [27]. According to Madej, the difference in the potential makes it impossible to compare the V4 to NORDEFCO, the most promising regional cooperation. This is due to the fact that the Nordic cooperation is more balanced in terms of military and economic potential [28].


The moderation of objectives indicates the cooperation in developing multinational units, especially the EU battlegroups. The battlegroups are a tool to strengthen the cooperation between countries, they allow them to pursue their interests in the European Union and beyond [29], they form a kind of brand building and enable the armed forces modernization, though they seem to be a moderate target, because:

  1. the Visegrád Group already has some experience in this area;
  2. the idea of battlegroups is not too ambitious at the current EU level of their development;
  3. battlegroups serve mainly to strengthen the EU policy, which is less “demanding” than NATO’s one.

The Visegrád experience in the field of battlegroups can be reduced to two elements:

  1. common experience from the preparatory period of the Visegrád Battlegroup establishment;
  2. personal experience of individual countries in creating other battlegroups.

The subject of establishing a joint V4 EU BattleGroup (V4 EU BG) was opened during the negotiations of the General Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Visegrád countries and of Ukraine in March 2007 [30]. In April 2007, the Visegrád Defence Ministers stated that they would begin discussions on the establishment of the Visegrád EU BattleGroup after 2015 [31]. In 2007-2011, further conceptual work on creating V4 EU BG was suspended, owing primarily to the slow pace of the feasibility study and low motivation to create the group [32]. The intensity of the talks was limited by Poland’s and Czech Republic’s obligations arising from their participation in other battlegroups, as well as by the EU debate on the very battlegroup concept. In the light of the Slovak government documents – the material prepared for a discussion at the government meeting by the Ministry of Defence – it follows that for the successful start of the preparations four conditions are to be met:

  1. a strong political commitment of the participating countries;
  2. the appropriate time to create the group;
  3. an early identification of the leading country in the group;
  4. the use of other countries’ experience [33].

The activities were reactivated in May 2011, when, in Levoča, the Defence Ministers (of Poland, of the Czech Republic, of Slovakia and of Hungary) signed a letter of intent on the joint establishment of the European Union battlegroup, which is scheduled for stand-by in the first half of 2016 [34]. The countries decided to entrust the group management to Poland and further preparations to the ministerial experts. Officially, the statement about the V4 EU BG establishment with its readiness in the first half of 2016 was given by Poland, the leading country, on behalf of the Visegrád countries at the coordination conference on the establishment of the Battlegroup in Brussels in April 2012 [35]. In March 2014, the Ministers of Defence signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of the V4 EU BG [36]. The group is to number 3280 soldiers, 1450 of whom will be provided by Poland, 670 by Hungary, 600 by the Czech Republic, 560 by Slovakia [37] and is to consist of eight modules, each of which is assigned to one country in the lead, for example, Hungarians are responsible for engineering, Slovaks for protection from mass destruction weapons, Czechs for logistics, Poland for communication and information systems and for operational command. As a leading country in the V4 EU BG, Poland is also responsible for the planning, preparation, training and certification of the whole unit [38].

The Visegrád countries also have their own experience of taking part in battlegroups formed together with older members of the European Union. The decision to participate in them logically flowed from the status of the countries in the EU, which, as new members will not be able to immediately solve relatively complex political-military issues, such as the establishment of a battlegroup [39]. Hungary was the first country involved in the formation of a battlegroup. In 2007 a joint Hungarian-Slovenian-Italian battlegrouph, whose executive was Italy, was established. In 2008, a Czech-Slovak battlegroup, with the Czech leadership, was founded [40]. When it comes to gaining experience, the participation of Poland and Slovakia in the Polish-German-Slovak-Latvian-Lithuanian battlegroup, which gained combat capability in June 2010, is particularly valuable. The frame management was entrusted to Poland [41]. In addition, in the first half of 2013, the Weimar Battlegroup, created by the Polish, French and German forces, was on duty. Like in the earlier group, Poland was responsible for the preparation and operation coordination. As aptly noted by Michał Paulech and Jan Urbanovská, considering the particular groups’ lack of operational experience, it is difficult to assess whether the various battlegroups, especially those in which the Visegrád countries have been involved, are at a similar level of military effectiveness and interoperability [42]. However, it must be noted that the Visegrád countries, in a relatively short time since joining the EU, have gained the direct experience of military group building and operating, in the case of Poland and the Czech Republic it is even the experience of a frame country.

As already indicated, the Visegrád Battlegroup establishment process is a part of the EU CSDP [43]. The battlegroups are created outside the structures of NATO and aim to strengthen the EU capability to undertake crisis missions and support the CSDP development, which is necessary to enhance the EU credibility as a global player. Strengthening the European defence capability also is aimed to prevent loosening of the Transatlantic ties. The idea of the battlegroups is now often seen as a waste of money, time and energy, as well as a pointless waste of capabilities [44]. Questioning of the battlegroup concept stems largely from the fact that they have not yet been put to use. This in turn is due to the lack of political commitment on the part of the member countries, which have decided to create and maintain the groups, but not to use them later. As Barcikowska aptly noted regarding the groups, their later use to protect and develop European interests in the new environment is no less important than their sheer formation [45].


The analysed documents allow us to conclude that defence planning cooperation is to be an important element of the Visegrád defence cooperation. It should be noted that it is seen, by the Visegrád Group, as a long-term process that can produce visible results within a short period of time. The Visegrád documents do not emphasise the fact that the defence planning coordination means a synchronization of defensive cycles of military asset replacements and a harmonization of their acquirement [46]. The ultimate aim of the planning cooperation is to spend the resources better, to develop the military capabilities, as well as to find common areas of capability development and to find ways to share them. According to Framework for an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation, presented by the Visegrád defence ministers in March 2014, capability-building projects might essentially seek three types of practical solutions:

  1. combining and sharing the assets;
  2. joint equipment procurement;
  3. research and development [47].

During the planning phase of the capability development project, by default, the Visegrád countries should always first examine whether the projects are feasible and mutually advantageous to be implemented in the V4 framework. It should be noted that such an approach is not easy as it requires a significant change in the mind-set and working process, but it is an important step to take for the further cooperation.

The Ministers point out that the cooperation should not take place only within the structure of the four countries. The Visegrád countries should also be involved in bilateral and trilateral cooperation forms. This represents a kind of departure from the earlier Visegrád Group thinking that emphasized solely the quadrilateral cooperation. B. Nemeth and T. Csiki’s opinion, based on the belief that the Visegrád Group is to serve as a platform to initiate joint projects based on the consensus among all four Visegrád countries, limited the possibility of spontaneous collaboration by two or three partners [48]. A bilateral or trilateral cooperation by definition can not be done under the V4 logo, but according to the new approach it does not exclude the possibility of discussing a project run by a smaller body, for instance, on the whole Visegrád Group forum. This record results from the experience of the foregoing V4 cooperation. The number of projects involving all the four countries would be quite limited, but, on the other hand, it does not make sense to give up on the implementation of a promising project when, for example, one country is not interested in it [49]. Moreover, the Ministers have also admitted cooperation with third parties/countries. The ultimate goal is to initiate fruitful sustainable multinational capability development projects.

The documents form the foundations of the institutional structure that were absent in the foregoing field of defence. It should be noted, however, that no permanent office to coordinate the activities has been appointed. It appointed three new institutions: the Senior Body, the Planning Group, Working Teams.

Figure 1: The organization of the V4 defence planning cooperation


  • Composed of the Secretaries of State / Defence Policy Directors / Armaments Directors.
  • Take a political decision regarding a project.
  • Decide whether a project will be open to third party countries, whether it is to contain NATO’s SMART DEFENCE elements or EU’s P&S initiative ones.
  • Integrated defence planning authority.
  • Composed of defence planning experts.
  • Headed by defence planning chiefs.
  • V4PG chairman is a defence planning chief whose country is given the period of the V4 presidency.
  • Acts under the V4 Senior Body authority.
  • Is responsible for the screening of defence and procurement plans and for identifying capability development projects at the expert-level.
  • Provides project proposals for the V4 Senior Body.
  • Supervises and gives directions to WT business activity.
  • Is to be informed on the inclusion of the approved projects in the national and NATO’s defence planning process.
  • Meets at least twice each presidency year and uses occasions associated with EU and/or NATO meetings, as well as other international events.
  • An ad hoc body established for individual projects.
  • Composed of defence planning experts and particular project subject matter experts.
  • WT chairman is a delegate whose country leads the project.
  • WT tasks are to present a conceptual project basis, to prepare a feasibility study and, if the project seems to be feasible, to create a roadmap.
  • Presents its proposals to the V4PG.

Source: VISEGRÁD GROUP. Annex A to the Framework for an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation. Procedural Base of the V4 Defence Planning Cooperation [online]. Visegrád March 14, 2014 [cit 2015-02-12]. Available from: VISEGRÁD GROUP. Annex B to the Framework for an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation. Terms of Reference of the V4 Planning Group [online]. Visegrád March 14, 2014 [cit 2015-02-12]. Available from:

The institution of Defence Planning Group (V4PG) has become an important element of the defence planning cooperation structure. It is an integrated defence planning body composed of defence planning experts. Its formula is flexible and the number of experts taking part in it depends on its needs. Overall, defence planning directors, defence planners and armaments or/and modernization experts take part in the discussions. The inaugural V4PG meeting was held in Bratislava on 2-3 December, 2014, each party was represented by three representatives [50].

The second appointed body is the Senior Body composed of the Visegrád Secretaries of State / Defence Policy Directors / Armaments Directors. Basically, the body is to meet twice a year formally and at least once a year informally. As noted by Col. Zbigniew Pękała, in the latter case, it is to be a rather a “situation-driven”, e.g. if the V4PG has identified a specific project and recommended the appointment of the Working Team for its analysis [51].

The Senior Body is to decide if the project is to be implemented. The institutional structure of the Visegrád defence planning cooperation integrates the Working Teams. They consist of both defence planning specialists and subject matter experts. They are to be established on a case-by-case basis if the Planning Group has identified a specific cooperation. Then the WT task will be to prepare a detailed feasibility study of the project and to submit a proposal of its practical implementation.

Defence Ministers described in the documents the procedures for defence planning cooperation. According to the Annex A to The Framework For an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation, the cooperation should be carried out by four procedural steps [52].

In the first step, three elements should be examined: a) national defence plans; b) national procurement plans; c) NATO capability target packages. In addition, the experiences of the battlegroup preparation process and ad hoc initiatives from NATO and EU could also be used to construct a matrix, in which all countries should identify the most promising elements when it comes to national plans, NATO capability targets and the implementation planned timing.

The second step is to identify mutually beneficial areas of cooperation and to indicate the nation responsible for facilitating a specific project.

In the third step, a nation that will run the project should be indicated. Then, a Working Team is established to conduct a thorough analysis of cooperation areas, to prepare the project feasibility study and, if the project seems to be executable, to create the “road map”.

The projects recommended by a Working Team will be directed to the Planning Group, which will present their comments to the Secretaries of State / Defence Policy Directors. The final decision on the project is theirs. They also decide on whether a project shall be included in the EU’s Pooling & Sharing initiative or NATO’s Smart Defence one.

On the basis of the Polish Defence Ministry sources, it can be concluded that, to January 2015, the defence planning cooperation in accordance with Annex A was carried out in the point 1 and 2 of the Annex (the review of national forces and capability development plans and the identification of promising areas / cooperation projects). The list of the most promising V4 defence cooperation projects (aka integrated matrix) has been prepared and the discussions on the legitimacy of the appointment of the first two WT (an Air Force cross-border cooperation and a joint transport aircraft use) are being held [53].

The Visegrád Group assumes that the exchange of information and the exchange of experts are an important defence planning cooperation element. It aims to reduce the costs and to enable the Visegrád military capability development. As stated in the Annex C to “The Framework For an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation”, on Standards of Participation in Each Other’s Bilateral Meetings and Joint Consultations with NATO and the Terms of the Exchange of Defence Planning Experts: „The exchange of relevant information may accelerate the exploration and exploitation of those capability areas where the participating members have comparable capability development objectives and similar timeframe for establishing or upgrading those capabilities.“ [54]

The Visegrád countries are aware that NATO Capability Targets offer the most tangible opportunities to identify common interests but other forms of cooperation are also required. Therefore, the Ministers of Defence indicated that the cooperation should be based on two cooperation forms: to regularly attend each other’s bilateral meetings and joint consultations with NATO and to conduct a regular defence planning experts’ exchange [55].

The purposes of the exchange of experts are: to enhance the exchange of information and knowledge of the defence planning of other Visegrád countries, to exchange experience on processes and comparison of national defence planning systems, to share information and compare the capability development plans and apportioned Capability Targets in order to find overlapping capability development areas and to facilitate the implementation of multinational targets. The purpose of bilateral consultations with NATO is to enhance knowledge of other V4 countries’ defence plans and to fulfil commitments resulting for the country from NDPP (NATO Defence Planning Process).

From the objectives presented in Long Term Vision of the Visegrád countries on Deepening Their Defence Cooperation in March 2014:

  1. the increased defence planning cooperation;
  2. the creation of multinational units;
  3. to strengthen the education, training and exercises cooperation [56] the last remark was devoted to the third one.

In February 2015 a meeting of Rectors of the V4 Armed Forces Academies was held. The main aim of the meeting was to inform about the current status of MoU negotiations on the Visegrád Group Military Education Platform (VIGMILEP) and to discuss the basic principles of VIGMILEP functioning, including the funding, and other possible forms of contribution, as well as the readiness to sign the current draft of Memorandum of Understanding [57]. However, It should be noted, that the Visegrád Group countries undertake joint training and exercises within NATO [58]. At the regional level only recommendations on this matter have been addressed so far [59].


There was a change in the Visegrád defence cooperation in 2010-2014. First of all, after years of absence, the subject appeared as an important point on the Visegrád agenda. The talks and discussions on the defence areas started at the highest levels, including the military ones. The Group also began to present a joint position in defence matters internationally and, by using the V4+ formula, to involve other countries and organizations.

The indication of the Visegrád objectives at a ministerial level bespeaks a change in its approach toward defence cooperation, but not its new quality. It should be emphasized that this is the only area of the Visegrád cooperation with such specifically defined objectives. Their moderation should be assessed positively, contrary to appearances. It affects the effectiveness of the activities and thus the further cooperation development, also in other fields. Consecutive successful projects have an impact on the mutual trust development which is transferred to other cooperation areas. The establishment of defence planning institutional structure indicates a new cooperation approach.

In 2014 the Visegrád Group noted significant achievements with adopting the LongTerm Vision and the Framework for an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation which created – for the first time in the V4 history – both a strategic concept of the goals, scope and level of ambition in V4 defence cooperation, as well as a mechanism for coordination of defence planning, including acquisition issues. Whether or not the cooperation will be of a new quality will be determined by the successful implementation of approved projects and creating flagship initiatives.

Setting goals and institutional structure outline are important steps, however the completed projects can indicate the new quality of the cooperation. It should be borne in mind that the implementation of the projects will not be an easy task. There are without doubt several factors that largely preclude taking joint actions and sometimes the discussion on them.

One of them is a large disparity in the budgets allocated to the Ministry of Defence by individual Visegrád countries, another one is the inequality of the partners in terms of size, resources and capabilities (three small and one medium-sized). The Hungarian, Czech and Slovak levels of expenditure on defence differ from the Polish one, which negatively affects the implementation of alliance commitments.

It is likely that the cooperation among the V4 in the shortterm will focus on two core deliverables:

  1. the EU Battle Group 2016, which can be developed into a flagship military capability of the V4, offered both to the European Union and NATO and enabling further cooperation in training, logistics and exercises; and
  2. the participation of V4 – as a cluster – in NATO’s Readiness Action Plan.

[1] GAWRON-TABOR, Karolina. Współpraca państw Grupy Wyszehradzkiej w procesie integracji europejskiej w latach 1989-2009. Toruń: Dom Wydawniczy DUET, 2013. pp. 153-173. ISBN 9788362558681. MORAWIEC, Rafał, Military cooperation in Visegrád Group. MADEJ, Marek and Visegrád Fund THE POLISH INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (eds.). Cooperation on security in Central Europe - sharing V4 experience with the neighboring regions. Warsaw: The Polish Institute of International Affairs, 2010. pp. 11-26. ISBN 9788389607935. MADEJ, Marek. NORDIKA Programme - Visegrád Group defence cooperation: what added value for the European capabilities? Note de la FRS (Foundation pour la Reserche Strategique) [online]. 2013, No. 19, pp. 1-12 [cit. 2015-10.09]. Available from:

[2] STŘÍTECKÝ, Vít. Security and Securitization in Central Europe. ŠABIČ, Zlatko and DRULÁK Petr (eds.) Regional and International Relations of Central Europe, Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. pp. 162-180. ISBN 023036067x. GAWRON-TABOR, ref. 1, pp. 153-173

[3] In order to implement the priorities of the Polish Presidency areas in the EU Council, the Ministry of Defence, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took action on the following issues: increasing the utility of EU battlegroups; the harmonization of military and civilian planning mechanisms and emergency response missions; improving the relations between the EU and NATO; strengthening the EU security and defence cooperation with Eastern partners; a joint initiative of the increasing and using military capabilities (Pooling and Sharing). Ochman, JACEK. Udział prezydencji Polski w kształtowaniu Wspólnej Polityki Bezpieczeństwa i Obrony. Kwartalnik Bellona [online]. 2012, Nr 1 (668), pp. 7-34 [cit. 2015-13-01]. ISSN 1897-7065 (online). Available from:

[4] JANKOWSKI, Dominik. W stronę skutecznego minilateralizmu w dziedzinie polityki bezpieczeństwa: na przykładzie aktywności Polski w Grupie Wyszehradzkiej. Bezpieczeństwo Narodowe [online] 2013, nr 3, p. 21 [cit. 2014-02-22]. ISSN 1896-4923 (online). Available from:

[5] The studies are part of a broader discussion on the increased Visegrád defence cooperation since 2010: CSIKI Tamás and NÉMETH Bence. Perspectives of Central European Multinational Defence Cooperation: A New Model?. MAJER, Marian and ONDREJCSÁK Róbert (eds.). Panorama of Global Security Environment 2013, Bratislava: Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs, 2013. p. 11-24. ISBN 978-80-971124-5-5. BÁTORA, Jozef and HAALAND MATLARY, Janne. Regional Security Integration: Nordic and Visegrád Approaches. Working Papers Institute of European Studies and International Relations Bratislava [online]. 2011, Issue no. 02, pp. 3-25 [cit. 2015-02-03]. ISSN 1337-5466 (online). Available from: LORENZ, Wojciech. Grupa bojowa UE – szansa na przełom we współpracy Grupy Wyszehradzkiej? Biuletyn PISM [online], 2013, Nr 38 (1014), pp. 1-2 [cit. 2015-02-05]. Available from: KISS, Peter. Eastern European Defense Review: Defense cooperation within the Visegrád Group. Unexplored opportunities? [online], Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies February 25, 2011 [Cited 2015-02-18]. Available from: TARASOVIČ, Vladimír. The Possibilities for Cooperation of the Visegrád Countries and Their Eastern Neighbours in the Development of Security and Defence Policy in the EU and Beyond. TÖRŐ, Csaba (eds.). Visegrád Cooperation Within NATO and CSDP [online]. Warsaw The Polish Institute of International Affairs, 2011, pp. 69-72. [cit. 2015-01-30]. ISBN 978-83-62453-22-1. Available from: WEISS, Tomáš. Visegrád Battlegroup: A Flagship That Should Not Substitute For Real Defence Cooperation. V4 Revue [online]. Bratislava: Democracy in Central Europe 2012 (June 4) [cit. 2015-02-23]. ISSN 1339-6889. Available from: ŠUPLATA, Milan. Visegrád battlegroup: A vehicle for regional defence co-operation. Central European Policy Institute. Policy briefs [online]. Bratislava: Central European Policy Institute 2013 (March 25) [cit. 2015-01-20]. Available from: VALÁŠEK, Tomáš and Šuplata MILAN (eds.). DAV4 Full Report – Towards a Deeper Visegrád Partnership [online]. Bratislava: Central European Policy Institute 2012. [cit. 2015-02-11]. Available from:

[6] EUROPEAN DEFENCE AGENCY. European Defence Cooperation [online]. European Defence Agency [cit. 2015-01-16]. Available from:

[7] HALIŻAK, Edward. Poziomy analizy w nauce o stosunkach międzynarodowych. HALIŻAK, Edward and PIETRAŚ Marek (eds.). Poziomy analizy stosunków międzynarodowych. Tom I. Warszawa: Polskie Towarzystwo Studiów Międzynarodowych: Wydawnictwo Rambler, 2013. p. 7. ISBN 9788362751235.

[8] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Long Term Vision of the Visegrád Countries on Deepening their Defence Cooperation [online]. Visegrád, March 12, 2014 [cit. 2015-01-27]. Available from:

[9] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Framework for Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation [online]. Visegrád, March 12, 2014 [cit. 2015-02-03]. Available from:

[10] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of the V4 EU BG [online]. [cit. 2015-02-01]. Available from:

[11] KUPIECKI, Robert. Visegrád Defense Cooperation: From Mutual Support to Strengthening NATO and the EU. A Polish Perspective. Report Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) [online]. 2013, no. 35, p. 4 [cit. 2015-02-27]. Available from:

[12] BIURO BEZPIECZEŃSTWA NARODOWEGO. Koncepcja strategiczna obrony i bezpieczeństwa członków Organizacji Traktatu Północnoatlantyckiego, przyjęta przez szefów państw i rządów w Lizbonie. Tłumaczenie robocze BBN [online]. Warsaw, 17.01.2011 [cit. 2015-02-04]. Available from:,dok.html

[13] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Presidential Summit of Visegrád Group [online]. Karlovy Vary: 9 November 2010 [cit. 2015-02-01]. Available from: KUPIECKI, ref. 11, pp. 2-3

[14] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Budapest Joint Statement of the Visegrád Group Heads of Government On Strengthening the V4 Security and Defence Cooperation [online]. Budapest, June 24 2014 [cit. 2015-02-08]. Available from:

[15] The action of the ministers of defence before the European Council meeting in December 2012 needs to be pointed here. Due to their activity, in the European Council’s documents, there is a written record about the role of small and medium-sized companies in the defence industry. It can be read there, among other things, that they are a vital link in the supply chain in the defence sector, a source of innovation and one of the key factors enhancing the competitiveness. ŻEMŁA, Edyta - TAŃSKA, Joanna, Chcemy partnerstwa przemysłowego w Unii. Polska Zbrojna [online] 09.12.2013 [cit. 2015-02-09]. Available from:

[16] KUFČÁK, Jakub. Regionální obranná spolupráce: Slovenské předsednictví Visegrádské skupiny. Briefing Paper Asociace pro mezinárodní otázky AMO [online]. 2014, nr 7, p. 4 [cit. 2015-02-11]. Available from:

[17] LORENZ, ref. 5, p. 1

[18] VISEGRÁD GROUP, ref. 10

[19] MADEJ, ref. 1, p. 4

[20] GNIAZDOWSKI, M., J. GROSZKOWSKI and A. Sadecki. Wyszehradzka kakofonia wobec konfliktu rosyjsko-ukraińskiego. Analizy OSW [online]. Warsaw: Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich 2014-09-10 [cit. 2015-02-14]. Available from:

[21] VISEGRÁD GROUP, ref. 14

[22] Ibid.

[23] VISEGRÁD GROUP, ref. 8

[24] References to “Long-term Action Plan” are already in the programme of the Slovak Presidency in V4 in the period from July 2014 to June 2015. VISEGRÁD GROUP. Programme of the Slovak Presidency of the Visegrád Group ( July 2014 – June 2015) [online]. [cit. 2015-02-08]. Available from:

[25] STŘÍTECKÝ, Vít. Doing More for Less: V4 Defence Cooperation in a Time of Austerity. The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs. Warsaw: The Polish Institute of International Affairs, 2012, no. 4, pp. 71-78. ISNN 1230-4999 (print).

[26] JIREŠ, Jan. Visegrádská obranná spolupráce: Na dobré cestě? CI Consult & Research s.r.o. [online]. 27. 3. 2013 [cit. 2015-02-17]. Available from:

[27] LORENZ, ref. 5, p. 2. STŘÍTECKÝ, ref. 24. Compare NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANISATION. Financial and Economic Data Relating to NATO Defence. COMMUNIQUE [online]. Bruxelles: PR/CP(2012)047-REV1, 13. 04. 2012 [cit. 2015-02-17]. Available from:

[28] MADEJ, ref. 1, p. 9

[29] MÉSZÁROS, Anikó. The Visegrád Battlegroup - How to make use of it beyond defence issues? BiztPol Affairs [online]. 2014, vol. 2:1, p. 6 [cit. 2015-02-01]. ISSN 2064-3152 (online). Available from:

[30] VISEGRÁD GROUP. The Programme of Slovakia’s V4 Presidency 2006/2007 [online]. [cit. 2015-02-22]. Available from:

[31] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Joint Communiqué of the Ministers of Defence of the Visegrád Group Countries [online]. Bratislava, 12 April 2007 [cit. 2015-02-24]. Available from:

[32] GOSTKOWSKA, Justyna – OSICA, Olaf (eds.). Closing the Gap? Military Co-operation from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea [online]. Warsaw: Centre for Eastern Studies, pp. 58-59 [cit. 2015-02-27]. ISBN 978-83-62936-18-2. Available from:

[33] SLOVAK REPUBLIC. Materiál programu rokovania, Informácia o stave prípravy bojovej skupiny Európskej únie krajín Vyšehradskej skupiny s pohotovosťou v prvom polroku 2016 [online] Bratislava:UV-27635/2014 [cit. 2015-02-11]. Available from:

[34] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Annual Implementation Report of the Program of the Presidency of the Slovak Republic in the Visegrád Group (1 July 2010 – 30 June 2011) [online]. [cit. 2015-01-30]. Available from:

[35] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Report on the Czech Presidency of the Visegrád Group July 2011 – June 2012 [online]. [cit. 2015-02-12]. Available from:

[36] Ref. 10

[37] Ref. 33

[38] ŠUPLATA, Milan (eds.). DAV4 II Expert group report on Visegrád defence collaboration from battlegroup to permanent structures [online]. Bratislava: Central European Policy Institute 2012. p. 6 [cit. 2015-02-11]. Available from:

[39] CHOVANČÍK, Martin and Zdeněk KŘÍŽ. Czech and Slovak Defense Policies Since 1999: The Impact of Europeanization. Problems of Post-Communism, M.E.Sharpe, 2013, vol. 60, No 3, p. 49-73. ISSN 1075-8216 (print)

[40] ŠINDELÁŘ, Miroslav. Battle Groups pro EU se připravují na Doupově. Armáda České republiky [online]. 2008-04-08 [cit. 2014-02-22]. Available from:

[41] TERLIKOWSKI, Marcin. Polish-Led EU Battle Group. Bulletin [online]. Warsaw: Polish Institute of International Affairs, 2010, No. 3, pp. 157-158 [cit. 2014-01-18]. Available from:

[42] PAULECH, Michal and Jana URBANOVSKÁ. Visegrad Four EU Battlegroup: Meaning and Progress. Obrana a strategie. 2014, roč. 14, č. 2, p. 54 [cit. 2015-01-27]. ISSN 1802-7199. DOI: 10.3849/1802-7199.14.2014.02.049-060 (print)

[43] EU COUNCIL SECRETARIAT. Council factsheet on EU Battlegroups [online]. Brussels: February 2007 [cit. 2015-01-26]. Available from:

[44] BARCIKOWSKA, Anna. EU Battlegroups — ready to go?. EUISS Briefs [online] 2013, No 40. Paris: European Union Institute for Security Studies [cit. 2015-01-09]. Available from:

[45] Ref. 44, p. 2

[46] TÖRŐ, Csaba. CSDP on the agenda of Visegrád cooperation – An increasingly important and practical instrument in a Central European concert. Fokus Austria Institut für Europa- und Sicherheitspolitik [online]. 2013, nr 2, p. 3 [cit. 2015-02-21]. Available from:

[47] Ref. 9

[48] Ref. 5, pp. 11-24

[49] E-mail communication with col. Zbigniew Pękała, Director of the International Security Policy Department in the Polish Ministry of Defence.

[50] Ref. 48

[51] Ibid.

[52] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Annex A to the Framework for an Enhanced Visegrád Defence Planning Cooperation. Procedural Base of the V4 Defence Planning Cooperation [online]. Visegrád March 14, 2014 [cit 2015-02-12]. Available from:

[53] Ref. 48

[54] VISEGRÁD GROUP. Annex C to the Framework for an Enhanced V4 Defence Planning Cooperation. Standards of Participation in Each Other's Bilateral Meetings and Joint Consultations with NATO and the Terms of the Exchange of Defence Planning Experts [online]. Visegrád March 14, 2014 [cit 2015-02-12]. Available from:

[55] Short-term exchanges of experts are expected to begin in 2015. Based on the experiences of these exchanges V4 will decide about Long-term exchanges. Ref. 48

[56] Ref. 8

[57] Armed Forces Academy of General Milan Rastislav Štefánik, The meeting of V4, [cit 2015-05-10]. Available from:

[58] GOTKOWSKA, Justyna and OSICA Olaf (eds). Closing the gap? Military co-operation from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. OSW Report [online]. Warsaw: Centre for Eastern Studies 2012, pp. Warsaw, DECEMBER 2012, pp. 60-61 [cit. 2015-02-11]. ISBN 978-83-62936-18-2, Available from:

[59] ŠUPLATA Milan and NAĎ Jaroslav. Military Training and Education: an Opportunity for V4 Co-Operation. INCAS BULLETIN [online]. 2015, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp. 121 – 130 [cit 2015-05-10]. ISSN 2066–8201. Available from:

Title in English:


Title in Czech:











Obrana a strategie


University of Defence


ISSN 1214-6463 (print) and ISSN 1802-7199 (on-line)




Volume 15, Number 1 (June 2015)







Published online:


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