Hollande pays historic visit to Slovakia

Francois Hollande made a historic one-day visit, the first ever by French president to Slovakia, October 29. At the beginning of his stay, he decorated his Slovak counterpart Ivan Gašparovič with the Grand Cross of the French Legion of Honour. To repay the honour, Gašparovič awarded Hollande with the highest state award in Slovakia - the Order of the Double White Cross First Class.

Francois Hollande made a historic one-day visit, the first ever by French president to Slovakia, October 29. At the beginning of his stay, he decorated his Slovak counterpart Ivan Gašparovič with the Grand Cross of the French Legion of Honour. To repay the honour, Gašparovič awarded Hollande with the highest state award in Slovakia - the Order of the Double White Cross First Class.

Speaking after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Gašparovič said that Hollande’s visit is of unprecedented historical and symbolical importance for Slovakia, marking 20 years of the existence of an independent Slovakia, but also the 95th anniversary of the founding of the first Czechoslovak Republic, in which France played a significant role, the TASR newswire quoted Gašparovič as saying. The Slovak president went on to observe that France is a strategic business partner for Slovakia, which was confirmed by the signing of the 2013-18 Strategic Partnership Action Plan between the two countries.

Hollande in his speech highlighted 20 years of Slovakia’s independence, praising the country’s “stable institutions, economic stability and dynamism”. The French president also observed that Slovakia and France have traditionally enjoyed close relations. Hollande pointed to the partnership between Košice and Marseille, which were chosen as the European capitals of culture this year.

Hollande then moved on to the Government Office to meet Prime Minister Robert Fico. They agreed that there is scope for additional co-operation between France and Slovakia in nuclear energy and addressing youth unemployment. Afterwards, he attended round-table talks dedicated to topics of the Franco-Slovak strategic partnership. Later in the day, Hollande met Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška at Bratislava Castle where he also visited the Art and Nature on Middle Ages exhibition from the Paris-based Museum Cluny which opens there.

The French President invited Fico to a conference on youth unemployment to be held in Paris November 12. Fico accepted the invitation, according to the SITA newswire. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his Slovak counterpart Miroslav Lajčák also signed a Strategic Partnership Action Plan for 2013 - 2018.

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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