Radičová meets Obama

TRANSPARENCY is a key principle in governing a country, Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová and US President Barack Obama agreed during a personal meeting between the two leaders in New York City on September 20.

TRANSPARENCY is a key principle in governing a country, Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová and US President Barack Obama agreed during a personal meeting between the two leaders in New York City on September 20.

Radičová and Obama met before a forum of the Open Government Partnership which the prime minister participated in as a part of her week-long trip to the United States. Radičová also attended a Global Investment Symposium called “Road to Prosperity” organised by the International Economic Alliance, an NGO; met with representatives from the Friends of Slovakia association; and participated in the 66th plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Radičová was also asked to give a lecture at New York University’s school of social research about the eurozone debt crisis and the future of the common monetary union.

President Obama said he appreciated the steps taken by Radičová’s cabinet in bringing greater transparency to the government.

“We are proud of you,” Obama said, as quoted in a press statement released by Slovakia’s Government Office.

Radičová said that more transparency is only one of the challenges facing the governments of Slovakia and the United States, along with reducing high levels of unemployment and taking effective measures in both the US and the eurozone to prevent serious damage from a potential second-wave economic crisis.

The meeting of the Open Government Partnership was the first high-level assembly of representatives from countries which are participating in this initiative, focused on international cooperation in areas such as transparency, government responsibility, citizens’ engagement and fighting corruption. The partnership was established by the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and several non-governmental organisations. Another 38 countries, including Slovakia, formally joined the partnership at the forum in New York City.

As a member of the partnership, the Slovak government will design an action plan by March 2012 that will bind the country to pass further reforms to increase transparency in public administration, fight corruption and cronyism, and widen the scope of public control, the Government Office stated. Slovakia will formally present its plan at the second session of the Open Government Initiative that will be held in Brazil next year.

“The Open Government Partnership is an absolutely natural and welcome initiative for me, fully in accord with the programme statement of the government and the steps we have taken up to now – for example, establishing the central registry of [government] contracts,” Radičová stated, adding that by participating in the initiative Slovakia will be better able to compare itself against other countries.

During her visit to the US, Radičová also attended a symposium, ‘Road to Prosperity’, held in the Harvard Club in New York on September 20, that was attended by 150 business leaders, financiers and other representatives of US companies, the Slovak Government Office reported.

“Slovakia is a country that is attractive to foreign investors, whose economy is still growing in spite of the current economic situation in the world,” Radičová said, according to a press release by her office.

In her speech, which among other topics dealt with the European debt crisis, the prime minister pointed out that the most difficult task of all governments in the current economic situation is to restore credibility in the eyes of the public and investors.

Radičová said the Slovak government is trying to achieve this through several reforms intended to increase the transparency of the state administration and judiciary, and through austerity measures focused on increasing credibility in the use of public money. She added that an important step to improve the business environment in Slovakia was the recent parliamentary approval of an amendment to the Labour Code.

On the other hand, Radičová emphasised that the success of Slovakia depends not only on domestic reforms, but also on the European Union finding solutions to the sovereign debt crisis.

During her meeting with representatives of Slovak communities from several states of the US, including Friends of Slovakia, an organisation that co-organised the meeting in New York on September 21, the prime minister praised the fact that even third-generation immigrants from Slovakia still speak Slovak and maintain their ties with Slovak culture.

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