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V4 group against delaying Schengen zone extension

Prime ministers of Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland took a common stance against Austria's demands that the Visegrád Four (V4) countries' accession to the Schengen zone be delayed, Slovak Spectator reported.

Currently the accession is scheduled for January 1, 2008. During their summit in Bratislava on June 18, the leaders also rejected a proposal that would allow Austria to keep operating border controls for four months longer than currently planned. "We have to stress to our Austrian colleagues that we don't agree with this, as there aren't two kinds of Schengen," Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány was quoted by Slovak Spectator as saying. Slovakia and the Czech Republic won the support of the Polish and Hungarian premiers for the EU Nuclear Forum, which would be held alternately in Bratislava and Prague, it was reported.

The V4 premiers requested that the US visa requirements for their countries be canceled, and they expect that Portugal will continue exerting pressure on Washington in this matter during its six-month EU presidency, beginning this July, it was reported. Also at the V4 meeting in Bratislava on June 18, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico officially passed the group’s presidency on to his Czech counterpart Mirek Topolanek, Slovak Spectator reported. Fico also held bilateral talks with Topolanek before the summit. The main topic was the EU's nuclear forum, which is set to be held twice a year with Slovakia and the Czech Republic being its alternating hosts. At the summit, the leaders also spoke about the European Constitution, energy security and the European Monetary Union. (