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Van der Linden to leave Slovakia for Kenya

ERIC van der Linden, the head of the European Commission delegation in Slovakia, is leaving Slovakia after more than three years in office, he told journalists following a farewell reception hosted by President Ivan Gašparovič on July 11.

"I am leaving in the second half of August for Kenya as European Commission representative," he said.

Van der Linden regards Slovakia as a "success story" of a country that integrated into the EU and operates successfully within the organization, the TASR news agency wrote.

"Slovakia has great potential in its geographical position, quality of labour force and citizens. It really has become an example of change. It's a country that still belongs to the poorer ones in Europe, but is achieving unbelievable advances," he said.

At his meeting with the president, van der Linden promised that he would be "Slovakia's Ambassador" during his future diplomatic missions abroad.

"The period, during which I worked in Slovakia, has been the most significant in my professional life," he said.

The president's spokesman Marek Trubač said, "President Gašparovič spoke highly of van der Linden's contribution to Slovakia's integration into the EU. At the same time he thanked him for everything he has done in favour of Slovakia here, at home, as well as abroad."

Van der Linden, 47, became the Ambassador and Head of the EC Delegation in Slovakia in March 2002. In April 2004, former President Rudolf Schuster awarded van der Linden the Order of White Double Cross (Second Class) to acknowledge his work undertaken in the process towards Slovakia's integration into the EU.

Following EU enlargement, the EC Delegation transformed to the Representation Office that the EC has in every member country. The EC has not as yet appointed a new head of the office for Slovakia. In keeping with tradition, it should be a Slovak citizen.

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