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Ivan Gašparovič First Ever Slovak President to Pay an Official Visit to Switzerland
September 9, 2012
From 9 to 11 September 2012, Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič paid an official visit to Switzerland as the first Slovak president in the history. He started his visit with a meeting with Slovak compatriots. “We consider the present Slovak community in Switzerland a useful bridge of cooperation between their current home country and the country of their predecessors,” the President said at the meeting. On this occasion, President Gašparovič awarded in memoriam a high state decoration, the Order of the White Double Cross of Second Class, to former president of the Swiss Confederation Willy Spühler who had considerably contributed to helping refugees from the former Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The award was presented by President Gašparovič to his daughter. President Ivan Gašparovič was received by President of the Swiss Confederation Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf with the highest honours. “It is my great pleasure to visit your country as the first president of the independent Slovak Republic in history. My goal is to enhance the existing good level of our mutual relations with Switzerland even more,” Ivan Gašparovič said. In his opinion, Slovakia considers a further expansion in bilateral trade exchange and investments crucial. “It is of our utmost interest to cooperate with you in science, research and innovation, where you are among the world’s top leaders,” the Slovak President noted.
Switzerland ranks at the 14th place on the list of largest foreign investors to Slovakia. The Swiss President emphasised the importance of science and research for the development of a country, therefore she said, she appreciated Slovakia’s interest in organising a joint innovation forum entitled Swissness 2012 in October in Bratislava. “Switzerland may contribute with its excellent level of professional and vocational training,” Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf added. The Slovak head of state also paid a visit to the headquarters of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and visited the underground tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider.
In addition, Ivan Gašparovič delivered a speech at the twenty-first session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. It was the first ever address delivered by a Slovak president before this renowned institution. “The United Nations Organization has made remarkable achievements in the field of human rights, perfecting the procedures and mechanisms of their protection. However, there is still room for further improvements,” President Gašparovič said in his speech. Afterwards he presented a gift to the UN on behalf of the Slovak Republic.