EU helps connect Ireland and Slovakia

IF YOU get Irish people believe in something most of them will work forever, especially when they really believe that what they are doing is good, said Irish Ambassador to Slovakia Anne-Marie Callan when describing her experience from helping the poor in Sierra Leone.

IF YOU get Irish people believe in something most of them will work forever, especially when they really believe that what they are doing is good, said Irish Ambassador to Slovakia Anne-Marie Callan when describing her experience from helping the poor in Sierra Leone.

“When I get to the some parts of the world as a European, as an Irish person, I am hugely privileged and it makes me to want more to do things that make this world a better place,” Callan told students during her visit of Evangelical school in Liptovský Mikuláš. “When you have the chance to do good – even the smallest thing – it is satisfying to do that.”

Her visit is part of the Bringing the World to the Classroom project developed by The Slovak Spectator, several foreign embassies in Slovakia and Orange foundation.

Callan also showed the students some benefits EU membership brought to the Ireland, pointing out that GDP of the country quadrupled, the labour force doubled to 2 million, and exports grew rapidly since Ireland joined the then European Economic Community (EEC) on January 1, 1973 alongside the UK and Denmark.

It brought also many benefits for citizens and business as well, she said, for example liberalisation of the communications market has provided a choice of internet and telecoms providers.

“Getting a phone line in Ireland was nightmare, you had to wait for six-eight months maybe even a year because there was only one telephone company and they could do what they liked,” Callan said, “De-regulation has meant that now there are about 20 telephone companies, you can get low prices and a phone in few minutes.”

She further went to both economic and cultural comparison of Slovakia and Ireland, with more similarities than one might expect including lots of castles in the countryside or appreciation of folk music and dance. Moreover, the Irish language has Celtic roots and Celts also once lived in Slovakia which could perhaps be the reason why students with Slovak parents often performs better in Irish than people who speak English as mother tongue, she said.

As a part of the programme students wrote essays on the issue: What should Europeans know about Slovakia in order to understand its people?

They pointed on country’s natural heritage and rich culture as well as political changes the country has gone through. According to student Ľuboslava Kubaská, Slovakia has a great potential for trade growth, and if the financial crisis and other problems are not taken into account, the situation has significantly improved. However, the west of Slovakia is much more developed compared to the east and if a foreigner visits only Bratislava, that person would have probably distorted view of the country.

Radoslava Kacová pointed out that Slovaks are influenced by the small size of their country which makes Slovak people feel close to one another. “Furthermore, towns and villages are so small that citizens almost know everybody else, so it happened that our country is like one big family,” she wrote.

Students approached by The Slovak Spectator after Callan’s lecture appreciated the general positive attitude of the Ambassador and the way how she described Slovakia which can accomplish a lot even though it is a small country.

“I haven’t seen Slovakia in such positive way that it is great country,” student Lenka Rybínová said, “but after she spoke about relationships between Ireland and Slovakia I was positively impressed and it gave me a lot.”

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