BRATISLAVA—On June 9, 2015, the International Visegrad Fund marks 15 years since its establishment in 2000.
The fund was established as the only organization of the Visegrad Group (V4), the regional alliance among the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The fund’s principle aims have been the long-term support of the development of civil society in the region, fostering of intern-institutional cross-border cooperation, the region’s cohesion and visibility, as well as the transfer of transformation know-how of the V4 countries to non-EU member states in the Western Balkan and the Eastern Partnership countries.
In the past 15 years, the fund awarded over 6,000 grant projects, individual scholarships and artists-in-residence arrangements in more than 35 countries in total worth more than €61 million.
“I believe it is the work of the fund that contributed the most to the success of ‘Visegrád’ being a recognized regional brand. The fund proved not only to be a source of money for citizens and institutions dealing with cross-border cooperation, but also became a unique instrument for sharing the firsthand experience and expertise the V4 countries gained from the transformation period and the EU accession,” said Karla Wursterová, the Fund’s Executive Director.
The Fund’s annual budget—currently totaling €8 million—consists of equal contributions from the V4 governments. Furthermore, to date the fund utilized almost €4.5 million worth of funding from external donors, namely the governments of Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.
While applicants from V4 countries receive about an equal share of the annual granted sums (around 20% per country each year), the remaining fifth of the fund’s annual contribution goes to non-V4 countries with Ukraine (ca. 7.9% in 2014), Belarus (ca. 2.8% in 2014), and Serbia (ca. 2.5% in 2014) as the major beneficiaries.
The fund operates several grant programs which can be utilized by private citizens, civil society organizations, but also municipalities and local and regional governments, schools, universities and other public institutions. Also, the fund annually awards more than 400 semesters of university scholarships and finances dozens of artist residencies in the region.
The International Visegrad Fund is an international organization established by the governments of the V4 countries. Slovakia currently heads the group as the presidency country and will be succeeded by the Czech Republic in July 2015.