Ambassadorial club

IT has been only a few months since my arrival to this delightful city in this dynamic and inspiring country, but I have already become immensely fond of the Slovak people, whose charm, warmth, and hospitality seem inexhaustible.

Ambassador of Turkey to Slovakia, F Suna Cokgür Ilicak, connects with our readers as part of The Ambassadorial Club, a regular column in which foreign diplomats are invited to share their experiences, both positive and negative, of Slovakia with The Slovak Spectator.

IT has been only a few months since my arrival to this delightful city in this dynamic and inspiring country, but I have already become immensely fond of the Slovak people, whose charm, warmth, and hospitality seem inexhaustible.

The progress the country has made both domestically and internationally since gaining independence in 1993 is very striking. Reform and renewal are in full swing, yet underlying national traditions and cultural heritage are sensitively protected.

During this short span of time, Slovakia has achieved full membership in the European Union and NATO, not to mention the United Nations Security Council, and won international recognition as a thriving society with much to contribute to Europe and to the world as a whole.

Slovakia is flourishing because of the dynamism of its people and perhaps, above all, its younger generation, whose energy and enthusiasm are reflected in every sphere of life here. This generation has certainly lived up to the highest standards while shouldering the responsibilities of public affairs and governmental duties. Even in a short time, a newcomer like myself has witnessed impressive examples of selfless dedication and determination that carry this country forward on its journey into the twenty-first century. Likewise, your human qualities - the exuberance and vitality of your young and the dignity and wisdom of your senior generations - enchant a visitor walking the streets of Bratislava, and reflect an utterly distinctive culture and history that's alive and growing.

I would like to take this opportunity to stress the need for the peoples of Slovakia and Turkey to become better acquainted. We have much in common, as well as much to offer each other. This applies to every aspect of life, such as the economy and public affairs, but I would particularly like to see more Slovaks spending their vacations in Turkey. Turkey has countless delights and wonders that I would love Slovakia's vibrant and adventurous people to discover, especially the bonds of friendship and common interest.

Of course, I am conscious that Slovakia has a lot of experience to offer my country in the context of European Union accession. It is not an easy road to undertake and, in some ways, we face a particularly difficult time. So I learn much from your example, and I am grateful to those of you who have spoken up for Turkey. This reflects not only real friendship, but also enlightenment. In this troubled and uncertain age, it is in Europe's real interest to have Turkey fully integrated.

So, there is much to be done during my time here and I am looking forward to it tremendously. Slovakia has captured my heart and, as my first ambassadorial posting, I have no doubt that it will always remain special to me. I look forward to being, in some small way, your representative, too, in the years ahead, as I tell friends and colleagues of the fine and outstanding things I have been privileged to get to know here.

F Suna Cokgür Ilicak, Ambassador of Turkey

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