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Slovakia celebrates EU's 50th birthday

SLOVAKIA HOSTED a birthday party in Bratislava to celebrate the European Union's 50th anniversary on March 26.
The Monday event was much smaller than the EU's official party in Berlin. It featured speeches from politicians and a huge white tent at Hviezdoslavovo Square containing kiosks from all 27 EU members countries and EU institutions.

The EU's 50th anniversary was celebrated in Bratislava on March 26.
photo: TASR

SLOVAKIA HOSTED a birthday party in Bratislava to celebrate the European Union's 50th anniversary on March 26.

The Monday event was much smaller than the EU's official party in Berlin. It featured speeches from politicians and a huge white tent at Hviezdoslavovo Square containing kiosks from all 27 EU members countries and EU institutions.

A crowd of mostly children, students, pensioners and tourists queued in front of the kiosks, attracted by piles of free brochures, leaflets and books.

Deputy Prime Minister Dušan Čaplovič addressed the Bratislava celebrations and commented on the Berlin Declaration - an optimistic statement of unity, diversity and progress released after the leaders' summit held on the anniversary weekend. The statement did not specifically mention the European constitution or EU enlargement.

"It is not enough to state that problems with the European constitution should be solved by 2009, when the Berlin declaration is silent about where the EU will continue heading in case that issue is not solved by this deadline," Čaplovič said.

Slovakia's Euro-Commissioner Ján Figel, who was a guest at the Bratislava EU festivities, said the EU can function without the European constitution but it needs to improve the way individual institutions function.

The celebration drew mainly students, children and seniors.
photo: TASR

"The constitutional treaty does not have a chance to come into effect without France and the Netherlands changing their stances," he said.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico celebrated in Berlin with the other EU leaders. He said Slovakia is satisfied with the declaration, as it contains all of Slovakia's demands.

He does not think it's a problem that the document does not directly speak about enlargement.

"I am pleased that the word 'solidarity' repeatedly appears in the declaration," he said.

Like the majority of Slovak politicians, Slovakia's President Ivan Gašparovič supports further EU enlargement and the adoption of the European constitution.

"The future and growth of the European Union are based on the enlargement by further countries," he said in his statement on the anniversary.

Slovakia became a member of the EU in May 2004, along with nine other countries.

The EU was formed on March 25, 1957 when the Treaty of Rome was signed. In the last 50 years, the European Economic Community established by six countries has grown into a 27-nation union.

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