"Prince Philip and I are very pleased to be joining you here in recognition of what I hope will be an ever-deepening friendship for many years to come," Queen Elizabeth II said at the banquet in Bratislava held by President Ivan Gašparovič and First Lady Silvia Gašparovičová on October 23.
In addition, the Queen said that the transformation that has taken place in Slovakia in the 16 years of its independence has "happily coincided with the growing and enduring engagement between our nations forged in many fields." President Gašparovič opened his ceremonial toast with an old Slovak proverb - 'Guest to a house, God to a house', adding that the Queen's visit was one of the most important visits in Slovak history.
The Queen said that her visit came "at a moment in our history when our two countries work side by side in the European Union, serve as allies in NATO and recently sat as colleagues at the UN Security Council."
She also pointed out to long and complex road which led to the achievement of Slovak independence and mentioned important historic events that formed this country.
"Here on the river Danube, Slovaks have long been on the cross-roads of history. You have witnessed the coronations of kings and queens, the signing of peace treaties ... caught behind the line dividing East from West for so long, Slovakia has now asserted its place in a common European home," she said.
Gašparovič pointed out that there were the many bonds between the United Kingdom and Slovakia, which we could be proud of and that "oblige us to constantly improve our mutual relations."
The state banquet was attended by many important personalities from Slovak political, religious and cultural life, as well as by numerous international guests. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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24. Oct 2008 at 15:00