SLOVAKIA has officially entered the European border-free Schengen zone.
At its session on December 6, the Council of Ministers of the European Union for Interior and Justice unanimously approved the entry of Slovakia and another eight countries into the Schengen area.
“We are in,” Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák told a press conference in Brussels shortly after the council decision. “The dream of Slovaks of European freedom, about 50 years old, has finally come true. The last remnants of the Iron Curtain fell today.”
Border checks between old and new member states of the Schengen Zone will disappear after midnight on December 21.
Austrian Interior Minister Guenter Platter told the media that Slovakia made great strides after a poor evaluation report in November 2006.
“In the past, Slovakia lagged behind,” he said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “However, Slovakia has caught up a lot, and now it is at the top when the security of Schengen borders is concerned.”
Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer said a similar thing.
“Yes, Slovakia lagged behind, but what has happened here in the last 15 months proves that if you have a clear vision, you want to implement it, and you are willing to work hard to achieve it, you can succeed,” he said.
Slovakia’s costs for Schengen entry preparations, and construction work indirectly related to Schengen, amounted to about Sk3 billion (€90.3 million).
Slovakia will celebrate its entry to the Schengen zone with several events. Prime Minister Robert Fico and Austrian Prime Minister Alfred Gusenbauer will symbolically cut the barrier at the border crossing in Berg at 11:00 on December 20.
Slovakia will enter the Schengen zone at one minute after midnight on December 21 together with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Malta.
10. Dec 2007 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff