Joint Meeting of the Chiefs of the V4 Countries’ General Staffs
On 29 and 30 September 2020, the Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic, Army General Aleš Opata, will attend a meeting of the Chiefs of the General Staffs of the V4 countries. The topic of the meeting will be the deployment of troops in the European Union Battle Group (EU BG), training activities, the possible involvement of the V4 countries in joint missions and foreign operations, and cooperation after the coronavirus crisis.
At the meeting of the Visegrad Four’s defence ministers taking place in the middle of this year, there was a discussion regarding the formation of another battle group of V4 countries within the EU BG. It should be able to be on call in the first half of 2023. 300 to 600 Czech soldiers should join the group, said Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar at the time.
The motivation of the countries to form a battle group lies in the more frequent demands for the provision of military capabilities for the EU associated with a growing number of security problems. The countries of Central Europe see the battle group as an opportunity to modernize and deepen their existing cooperation.
There was a video conference of the Chiefs of the General Staffs of the V4 countries held in May of this year, where the following points were discussed: the conceptual development of the European Union Battlegroup (V4 EU BG), cross-border cooperation of the V4 countries, development of cyber capabilities, training and educational activities and strengthening of cooperation of the V4 countries in joint deployment missions. At that time, the Chiefs of the General Staffs of the V4 countries agreed on a standstill period of the V4 EU BG battle group for one year with a regular six-year rotation cycle. The Czech Republic cooperates with Slovakia and Poland in the area of cross-border cooperation of the V4 countries, the so-called Cross Border Operations (CBO) and in the creation of areas above the border areas, the so-called Cross-Border Area (CBA). "We use cross-border training areas together with Slovakia and, from this year, also with Poland. We have also signed an agreement with Slovakia on mutual protection of airspace, which will enter into force on 1 June 2020," said Army General Aleš Opata at the time. The agreement with Slovakia allows for action against an intruder in the territory of a neighbouring state, with the national authority deciding on a possible action. In February 2020, the Agreement between the Government of the Czech Republic and the Government of the Republic of Poland on Cooperation in Military Aviation entered into force. Considerable attention is also paid to cyber security within the armies of the V4 countries. At the last video conference in May, the generals expressed support for mutual information and assistance in the development of this ability.
There are several motives for cooperation between the V4 countries. Above all, it is about sharing security threats and challenges, both globally and at regional level. Another motive may be to act more effectively within NATO and the EU, where cooperation often works in other V4 contexts.
The V4 countries have great potential in a joint defence concept, including the modernization of their armies, but in reality they manage to realize joint visions and purchases only sporadically.