Deputy Premier of Slovakia delivers
special lecture at HUFS
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miroslav Laj??k of the Slovak Republic gave a special lecture on the subject of ‘Building a stronger European Union and forging stronger Europe-Asia partnership: a Slovak view’ at the Seoul Campus of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies on Nov. 25, 2013.
He said that it was always refreshing to speak to young audience, hear some unconventional approaches (lately 3 universities in Slovakia; Stockholm; Milan; Harvard).
He stated that he was particularly glad to be at HUFS (university which has risen since 1954 to a distinguished institution with tens of thousands of alumni). It was his first speech in on Asian University in his current position; it takes place in time of accelerating EU-Asia relations; his special sentiments towards East Asia (his first ambassadorial posting in Japan). Excerpts from his lecture follow:
Slovakia in the EU
Let me use this opportunity and introduce my country…
Two major events laid the basis of modern Slovakia:
Next year we will recall the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in former Czecho-Slovakia.
This year ? 20th anniversary of our independence ? peaceful “Velvet divorce” resulted in the split of former Czecho-Slovakia and established our independent statehood.
Ever since then massive transformation took place affecting all spheres of our society.
In parallel ? integration processes (primarily EU/NATO) taking place ? and serving as motivation, source of best practices, standards, legislation… (beacon for aspirants)
Next year - 10th anniversary of Slovak membership in the EU and NATO.
94% of SK borders form the internal borders of the EU (only 98 km /UA/ external);
85% of our export of goes to EU countries;
85% of laws adopted by the Slovak parliament, is a transposition of European norms;
75% of public investment in Slovakia financed from European resources;
Transformation and integration were worth it. We joined the most successful model of peaceful integration of states ever invented in Europe (and beyond) with tangible benefits:
- no border controls,
- common currency (shared by 17 MS),
- free movement of goods, capital, services and persons ? resulting in freedom to travel, settle, study, make business throughout Europe,
- high living standards,
- highest level of protection of human rights.
It goes hand in hand with transferring and sharing part of our sovereignty, which however, does not make us less relevant or influential. On the contrary:
1. We moved from what was, in political terms, the European periphery; to the very core of European and Transatlantic policy-making (“punching above our weight”);
2. We were object of EU/NATO policies, today we are shaping them; (menu vs. table)
3. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, we sought the protection of NATO ? today we contribute to providing security in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond (AFG);
4. From a post-communist country and a recipient of international donor assistance we qualified into the group of most developed countries ? OECD ? together with Korea. Just recently we recalled the 10th anniversary of our official development assistance programme /SlovakAid/ (since 17/9/2013, Slovakia is also a member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee /DAC/; Republic of Korea joined it in 2010).
EU - opportunity for smaller states - multiplication of our voice and our role. It makes our voice stronger and our policies more efficient.
European policy making - based on compromise and on consensus. Each country’s voice counts. Our ability to seek and find joint solutions is what made Europe successful.
The EU is not about being big or small, old or new member, being on political left or right. It is about being responsible or irresponsible.
SK follows this responsible approach - recently recognised by Moody's, Fitch, or the European Commission (predicting SK the 3rd highest GDP growth in the Eurozone in 2013).
Korea is part of Slovak success story:
SK has become a gateway for Korean businesses to the EU - home to more than 90 Korean investors with flagship investments such as KIA and Samsung.
Republic of Korea - the biggest investor from Asia in Slovakia and our biggest trade partner in Asia (total trade volume exceeding 5,6 bn € in 2012 according to Slovak trade statistics).
Following Germany, UK and Netherlands, Slovakia is the 4th largest export market for Korea in the EU.
People-to-people contacts are also increasing - each year more and more Slovaks visiting Korea and thousands of Koreans heading to Slovakia. We have also very good cooperation at multilateral forums, especially in the UN and the OECD.
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