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Prejav konzula - Port Moody 21.september 2012

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, dobry vecer dámy a páni...

I would like to welcome you all tonight and thank you for accepting our invitation and be part of our celebration of 20th anniversary of the Slovak Constitution and witness our presentation of Slovakia as a “little big country” tonight It is my pleasure to welcome members of British Columbia Consular corps: I would like to welcome: HCG of Costa Rica Antonio Arreaga-Valdes, CG of Germany Hermann Sitz, CG of Japan Hideki Ito, CG of Malaysia Mohd Haniff Abd Rahman, , CG of Poland Krzystof Czapla, HCG OF Ecuador Ettiene Walter and CG pf Pakistan Shuja Alam Thank you for coming.

Slovakia became independent state on 1st of January, 1993. The Slovak parliament adopted the Slovak Constitution a few months before the actual proclamation of independence which we will celebrate on the 1st of January. This Constitution is not only a fundamental law of a country, but also an expression of natural rights of the nations to self-determination and a proclamation of Slovakia as a free, independent, sovereign and democratic country. In 20 years Slovakia has made and extraordinary transition from a country locked behind the iron curtain with a stumbling economy to a vibrant democracy, with some of highest economic growth rates in Europe.

Slovakia, one of the world’s youngest countries, has in 20 years of its independence managed to achieve results that should make its people proud. Slovakia has become a full-fledged member of such prestigious clubs as OECD (2000), EU and NATO (2004), the Schengen Area (2007) and Eurozone (2009).

Despite the recent global financial crisis and the current economic gloom seeping out of Western Europe Slovakia is powering ahead. The GDP growth in 2011 was 3.3%.

Canada and Slovakia share the same democratic values and objectives and enjoy excellent relations. Canada was among the first nations who recognised the new independent country and offered a helping hand in different fields.

Many Slovaks came to Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries in search of opportunity or shelter from the political persecution and Canada traditionally welcomed them all, in particular after the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Today there are almost 70.000 Slovak Canadians whose ties with Slovakia help to strengthen our already solid relations.

In 2011 the bilateral trade between Slovakia and Canada reached 240 million dollars, remarkable increase of 40% compared to previous year. Today Slovak export to Canada is highly dependent on one commodity – automobiles, representing 72% of Slovakia total export to Canada.

When Canadians buy the perfect Audi Q7, WW Tourag or Porsche Cayenne or nice Ikea furniture, very few know it is very likely that those were made in Slovakia.

The Slovak nation is rightfully proud on its success story and it shares its experience with emerging new democracies around the world.

I am very happy and grateful for the opportunity to present our country at 15th annual Port Moody Festival of the Arts, and would like to thank the Festival Organizing Committee.

I would also like to thank all the volunteers and performers for their hard work and keeping Slovak traditions alive in British Columbia.

We will start the presentation with a short film highlighting Slovakia.

Thank you for your attention and I hope enjoy the evening.

Stanislav Lišiak, Honorárny konzul SR vo Vancouveri

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