THE SLOVAK people deserve credit for what the country has achieved over the past 10 years since joining the EU, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said during his visit to Bratislava on April 28.

During his one-day visit to the capital Barroso met President Ivan Gašparovič, from whom he received the White Double-barred Cross Second Class state honour, had lunch with Prime Minister Robert Fico, attended the ceremonial signing of the memorandum on the reverse gas flow to Ukraine, and delivered a lecture at the University of Economics, where he received an honorary doctorate.

"Slovakia has gone through a substantial modernisation process. What was done was done by Slovak society," said Barroso as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that May 1, 2004, when Slovakia joined the EU, was a milestone for the country.

"Slovakia has made use of every opportunity for economic development, it has made an effort to draw all benefits offered by EU membership, with the people feeling those benefits," said Barroso.

Barroso pointed to the fact that Slovakia has been one of the fastest growing countries in Europe despite the economic crisis. He pointed out that as many as 130,000 new jobs were created thanks to EU funds between 2007-13 and that hundreds of schools, hospitals and other public-service facilities have been reconstructed thanks to funds from the Union.

After meeting with Barroso, PM Fico praised his attitude towards countries that do not have major economic and political influence in the EU.

"We've dealt together with many crisis situations. He's appeared as an independent chairman who cares about the development of all EU-member countries," said Fico, as quoted by TASR.

Fico assured Barroso of Slovakia's pro-European attitude, with all relevant political parties concurring on the principal issues of foreign policy and European integration.

Barroso in turn praised Fico for his "bold steps" in fiscal policy.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.