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Ambassadorial club

FOR a foreign diplomat Slovakia is a mixed blessing. On the positive side, one encounters a young and dynamic nation that is on the move politically as well as economically. Slovakia strikes one as a nation that has accomplished a large number of political objectives within a short period of time.

This week, the Indian Ambassador to Slovakia, M K Lokesh, connects with our readers as part of The Ambassadorial Club, a weekly column in which foreign diplomats are invited to share their experiences, both positive and negative, of Slovakia with The Slovak Spectator.

FOR a foreign diplomat Slovakia is a mixed blessing. On the positive side, one encounters a young and dynamic nation that is on the move politically as well as economically. Slovakia strikes one as a nation that has accomplished a large number of political objectives within a short period of time.

A diplomat who has spent the last few years in Slovakia has been witness to significant events, such as Slovakia becoming a member of NATO and the EU, as well as other European structures, crowned by its election to the United Nations Security Council.

Slovakia offers a beautiful feast for nature lovers with its vast expanse of rivers and mountains. Even the "broken down" castles in which the country abounds provide profound historical per-spective for anyone interested.

Given the size of the country, a diplomat from an Asian country such as India finds it relatively easy to run through the whole gamut of his country's relations with Slovakia. Being a new country, it is virgin territory for a diplomat to undertake new activities to promote his country.

On the flip side, for a diplomat who hails from a large country and who has served in some of the larger and more exciting places, Slovakia's lack of diversity makes it appear somewhat plain. For instance, a large number of main cities in Slovakia are accessed along the E75/E50 and a diplomat may end up traversing this road more than 100 times during his stint in the country.

Slovak people, while not unfriendly, seem a bit distant to foreigners, perhaps due to the language barrier. For an Indian diplomat who is normally witness to large and prosperous members of the Indian diaspora in most of his postings, Slovakia offers a gaping hole in this respect, complicating his social life!

In terms of tourism, places such as Prague and Budapest have been able to sell themselves more aggressively, whereas in Slovakia there is a need to improve infrastructure and service in the tourism sector - especially hotels. Therefore, one must confess that a diplomat has to look somewhere else if he has a large appetite for tourism. Fortunately, Bratislava is located within calling distance of some of Europe's touristic gems.

Slovakia is a charming country, but it is essential to master its Slavic language if one wants to enjoy life here fully!


- M K Lokesh, Ambassador of India in the Slovak Republic

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