Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič met Parliamentary Speaker Asta Raghneidur Johannesdottir in Iceland on Monday, September 20 and said that he was glad to meet the speaker of the oldest European Parliament in person, the TASR newswire reported. Gašparovič said that Slovakia, as a newer EU member, could offer its experience with accession so that Iceland "wouldn't have to learn from its own mistakes like we did".
Iceland's Speaker of Parliament was also interested in how the Roma problem is being addressed in Slovakia. Gasparovic responded that all Slovak governments have paid great attention to the issue and invested significant resources into tackling it, but "the lack of interest of the Roma community itself in education and the lack of desire to change their situation remains the greatest obstacle," TASR wrote. The Icelandic branch of Amnesty International organised a protest against "violation of human rights in Slovakia" in front of the Icelandic parliament in Reykjavik on the same day, with Reykjavik Mayor Jon Gnarr among the demonstrators.
Gašparovič also met Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, with whom he discussed the integration ambitions of Iceland and development of bilateral relations – particularly trade and commerce.
On Sunday, the Slovak President talked with his Icelandic counterpart, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, about accession negotiations between Iceland and the EU. The aim of this first official visit of a Slovak president to Iceland was to intensify the bilateral dialogue in the sphere of trade and commerce, research and development, as well as to show support for Iceland's ambitions to join the EU. Specifically, Slovakia is interested in broadening cooperation in pharmaceutical industry research and in the use of geothermal energy, as 90 percent of Icelandic households are heated with geothermal energy.
Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda is on an official visit in Iceland as well and on Monday he encouraged Icelandic leaders in their effort to get their country into the EU. Icelandic politicians were interested in Slovakia's experience in EU accession talks and asked Slovakia for support in negotiations pertaining to fishing, the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry press department told TASR.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
21. Sep 2010 at 10:00