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President Barroso visits Slovakia

EC

Today, President Barroso visited Bratislava, where he met the President of the Slovak Republic, Ivan Gašparovič, Prime Minister Robert Fico and received the Doctor Honors Causa degree at the University of Economics.

President Barroso was awarded by President Gašparovič the Order of the 2nd Class White Double Cross at the State Award ceremony. Upon receiving the order, President Barroso said:

"I am tremendously honoured to receive this award. And I am very moved to receive this distinction at this particular moment in time, when we celebrate the country's accession to the European Union ten years ago this week, an occasion that is so significant for the identity of today's Slovak Republic, a milestone in the history of Europe and an event that symbolises everything the Union stands for.

So while I am on this occasion first of all thankful for the honour of receiving this award, I want above all to congratulate you and the Slovak people on the results you have achieved over the years - a historic event well worth celebrating, and an inspiration for the future of the country, which I am sure will be equally outstanding."

The award ceremony was followed by a press conference.

Following a bilateral meeting of President Barroso and Prime Minister Robert Fico, they attended the ceremony of signing the Memorandum of Understanding with Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan.

Later on the same day, President Barroso visited the Bratislava University of Economics for a ceremony awarding him the title Doctor Honoris Causa. Following this ceremony, President Barroso held a lecture, where he said:

"Since joining the European Union, Slovakia was the fastest among the Visegrad countries to catch up with more prosperous economies, with per capita income rising from 57% of the EU average in 2004 to 76% in 2012. In the pre-crisis years, average economic growth reached 7% - even exceeding 10% in 2007 – and in spite of the crisis Slovakia has kept up the pace as one of the most rapidly growing countries in Europe. The EU also helped Slovakia to tackle one of its biggest problems - unemployment which was at the level of 19% in 2004. Nevertheless, the current level of above 13% is still high and further efforts are needed.

Europe has also offered opportunities. […] Europe has offered support. […]But most important, more than such figures that I like to give as examples, is the fact that Europe, apart from opportunities and financial support, provided the framework for Slovakia to reform its structures, to fuel a process that fundamentally updated the country's political, economic, social, and administrative institutions to promote the stability and security investors, entrepreneurs and citizens demand."

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