Visegrad Leaders Push For Quicker Deliveries Of COVID-19 Vaccines To Central Europe.
Leaders of the Visegrad Group of nations pushed for faster deliveries of vaccines to their Central European countries to help fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in the region.
The leaders of Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland on February 17 said they support buying vaccines from producers regardless of “geopolitics,” as long as they are safe and effective.
Leaders of the four Central European nations,Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic gathered at the Wawel Castle in the Polish city of Krakow to mark 30 years of their Visegrad Group (V4), an informal body of political and economic cooperation in the region
Questions were earlier raised about the safety and efficacy of the Russian vaccine, but peer-reviewed, late-stage trial results published in The Lancet medical journalthis month showed the two-dose regimen of Sputnik V was 91.6 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19, about the same level as the leading Western-developed vaccines.
“There is no Eastern or Western vaccine, there is only a good or a bad vaccine,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a news conference. “It is not good to be too political about the health security of the people.”
Orban in the past has criticized the EU for its slow rollout of vaccines in the bloc. Orban has been repeatedly criticized by EU leaders in Brussels for his authoritarian governance in his country.
Hungarian leader has defended his government’s decision to unilaterally seek vaccines, without EU approval, from Russia and China. Hungarian health authorities last month approved vaccines from China’s state-owned company Sinopharm, as well as Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matowic and Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland backed Orban’s comments.
Slovakia is currently rolling out the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, all of which have been officially approved by the agency. Sputnik V is on card to buy.
European Council President Charles Michel, who attended the event, said bloc leaders will next week discuss ways of increasing vaccine production and of speeding the inoculation process.
Michel praised the group’s development and role in the EU but stressed the group must be “based on principles of democracy,” in comments that appeared to be directed at Hungary and Poland.
All four countries are EU and NATO members. Hungary and Poland have often been criticized by Brussels for what is seen as political interference in areas like the judiciary and media freedom.
V4 nations “understand their share of responsibility for the future of Europe” based on Christian values, Orban wrote.
The V4 was founded in February 1991 from a declaration of cooperation that then-Presidents Lech Walesa of Poland, Vaclav Havel of then-Czechoslovakia, and Jozsef Antall of Hungary signed in Visegrad, Hungary.
Poland holds the group’s 12-month rotating presidency, which it will hand over to Hungary on July 1.
Visegrad insight, Europe must make sure that it is not outplayed by other global powers. China, Russia, and India are already trying to influence the world through aggressive #vaccine diplomacy