Ukraine To Be Invited To Number Of Visegrad Group Meetings In Bid To Boost Cooperation

WARSAW, Poland -- Ukraine will be invited to participate in a number of future meetings of the Visegrad Group - a regional alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - in a bid to boost EU cooperation with its eastern neighbors.

"We will invite Ukraine to take part in a number of the Visegrad Group's future sittings," Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said at a joint press conference of leaders from the Visegrad Group and Slovenia, broadcast Monday by news channel TVN24.

The two-day meeting focused on EU neighborhood policy towards eastern countries, Kosovo independence, adhesion to the EU passport-free Schengen travel area and priorities for Slovenia's EU presidency for January-July 2008.

The four countries agreed to tie cooperation with the so-called 'B3' Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to better carry out "higher responsibility" in the field of EU relations with ex-Soviet republics.

"We will cooperate more closely with the group of Baltic states, which means that an Eastern dimension of the EU neighborhood policy could be fortified by practical undertakings," Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Monday.

"It matters a lot to Poland that Slovenia, the Baltic States and countries of the Visegrad Group take higher responsibility in creating an eastern dimension of the EU foreign policy."

The leaders also agreed to lower visa costs for Belarusian citizens, after the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia join the Schengen zone on December 21.

Source: Interfax