Visegrad Group Presidents urge people to get vaccinated, voice solidarity with Poland

Budapest, Nov 30 (IANS): The Presidents of the Visegrad Group countries launched a Covid-19 pandemic appeal in Budapest, urging people to get vaccinated, and stressed their solidarity with Poland over the migrant crisis.

"Our region is facing a dire pandemic situation, it might further worsen with new coronavirus mutations," the Presidents of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia said on Monday in their joint appeal, which comes at a time when several countries closed their borders to guard against the spread of the new Omicron virus variant.

"The science is clear: vaccines are our best and most effective tool against Covid-19: they substantially reduce the risk of serious complications and death," the appeal, handed out to media during a joint press conference, added.

"We, the Presidents of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, therefore call on everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible for the sake of their health and the health of their loved ones," it said.

Presidents Andrzej Duda of Poland, Janos Ader of Hungary and Zuzana Caputova of Slovakia met here to attend the opening of the Planet Budapest 2021 Sustainability Expo and Summit, while their Czech counterpart Milos Zeman, took part in their press conference online, as he was unable to travel because he had contracted the coronavirus.

The summit is the most prestigious international diplomatic meeting on sustainable development in the central European region, where the world's leading policymakers, academics and high-ranking officials from international organisations exchange views and seek solutions to global environmental, economic and social challenges.

The Presidents also expressed their solidarity with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in their joint statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

"We, the Presidents of the countries of the Visegrad Group gathered in Budapest on Monday, express our full solidarity with the EU (European Union) and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) countries, which face hybrid attacks at their borders with Belarus," the statement added.

The V4 Presidents declared their readiness to give full support to Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in protecting the external borders of the EU.

"The issue of migration and what is happening at the Polish border is yet again drawing attention to the fact that the EU cannot delay further its response to the migration crisis," Ader said.

"If we look at the crisis in Afghanistan, or if we look at the changes in other parts of Africa and Asia, or even the effects of climate change, Europe will be under increasing migratory pressure," Ader warned.

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko on Friday called on the EU to resolve the migration crisis as soon as possible.

According to BelTA News Agency, Lukashenko called on Germany to accept them as soon as possible since German Chancellor Angela Merkel had agreed to the refugee reception plan. Lukashenko also said he hoped that Poland would allow them to pass because the refugees wanted to go to Germany.

Thousands of refugees, mostly from the Middle East, are trying to get to Poland, Lithuania and other EU countries from Belarus in order to eventually obtain asylum in western Europe.

Countries, including Poland, have tightened border controls and prevented illegal entry, leaving large numbers of migrants stuck at the border.



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