The president made the statement while addressing a Visegrad Group (V4) summit in Warsaw, attended by the PMs of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, and inaugurating Poland's rotating presidency of the group.
President Duda expressed his gratitude to the Czech presidency which, despite extraordinary circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, managed to uphold high dynamics of dialogue and achieved much for the sake of the group's common interests in the region and in the EU forum.
The Polish head of state expressed his hope that the coming year "will be marked by very good cooperation and constructive efforts made by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland in order to implement the planned priorities." He also added that he was sure the four economies would quickly return to a path of growth.
President Duda noted that during the coronavirus pandemic, all the V4 countries "managed to cope well with health problems." He also quoted recent Eurostat data, according to which V4 countries had the lowest unemployment rate in the entire EU. "This has been possible owing to the proper response of our governments," he stated.
Over the past three decades, the V4 has shown on numerous occasions that it is an effective format for coordinating the partners' efforts, as well as facilitating the promotion of regional interests and better understanding among its members, Duda said.
The president said the V4's strong stance has helped influence EU decisions in recent years, referring to the region's veto to mandatory refugee relocation, as an example. Duda stressed the need to secure the EU's borders and channel EU aid to regions where conflicts and problems that cause migration originate.
The V4 has proved "that we are valuable and ambitious countries which are a source of optimism in Europe, and a source of development and support for the idea of European unity and solidarity," he also said.
Duda encouraged the V4 PMs to focus in their discussions on the next EU budget. "I believe that it is the most important task for us, considering the EU policy," he said.
"We want our region to become a development hub in Europe after the pandemic. We have strong ambitions, but also strong development needs. That's why we want an ambitious budget that will focus on growth, on European cohesion and the implementation of major infrastructural investments that will provide a boost to the European economy also in our region," the president said. (PAP)