Norway's King Harald V says he believes that that his current visit to Slovakia will contribute to the deepening of relations between the two countries. He made the comments after meeting Slovakia's head of state, President Ivan Gašparovič, in Bratislava on Tuesday, October 26.
King Harald said that Slovakia as a country was still veiled in mystery for him, as he had never visited before. He said he believed he would get the opportunity, during his three-day visit, to acquaint himself with Slovakia's history and the Slovak mentality.
Gašparovič linked the visit to the 100th anniversary of the death of Norwegian writer Bjornstjerne Bjornson, who advocated the rights of small and persecuted nations, including the Slovak nation. The Slovak president praised the financial assistance provided by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, which is set to earmark €80 million for Slovakia over the next three years. He further pointed to the importance of Norwegian investments in Slovakia, which have totalled €166 million since independence, the TASR newswire wrote.
King Harald said he is pleased that he and his wife Sonja will have the opportunity to visit some of the projects that have received support from Norway. He noted that memoranda of understanding were due to be signed later on Tuesday that would define the priorities for grants in the 2009-14 period.
The two heads of state also discussed foreign political issues. Concerning alleged discrimination against Roma in Slovakia, Gašparovič said that if a country resolves a problem individually there will always be groups that point to violations of civil rights.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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27. Oct 2010 at 10:00