Andrej Kiska welcomes the President of Bulgaria on an official visit

The President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, has embarked at the invitation of President Andrej Kiska on a two-day official visit to Slovakia, where he arrived on Tuesday.

President Radev has come to Slovakia at a time when Bulgaria’s presidency of the Council of the European Union is ending, and European integration was one of the topics for discussion, alongside deepening bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Slovakia and the battling of corruption in both countries.

The following cooperation agreements were signed in the presence of both presidents.

- Between Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava and Technical     University of Sofia

- Between the Slovak press agency TASR and the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA)

- Between University of Economics in Bratislava and University of National and World Economy, Sofia

In the afternoon, the presidents laid wreaths at the Gate of Freedom near Devin Castle. President Radev also met with Parliamentary Speaker Andrej Danko and Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, and on Wednesday visited Christ Botev Primary and Grammar School, a Bulgarian-language school located in Bratislava.

President Kiska said:
“This was the first official visit by the President of Bulgaria to Slovakia. I am pleased to be able to welcome him here as a friend, as we had met not long ago in Warsaw. This is a special day because the president celebrated yesterday his 55th birthday.

Our conversations together touched on several topics. A very important message is that Bulgaria’s presidency of the Council of the European Union is coming to a close, where its priority has been something about which I am still convinced – that we are strong together.

I was very glad during our meeting of the clear conviction expressed by both of us that we must look for solutions. As I have repeated often, the European Union is not the problem, but rather the European Union is the solution for all of the great challenges we face.

In view of our bilateral relations, it can be greatly appreciated that Bulgaria is a very popular destination for tourists from Slovakia. Every year almost 100,000 tourists visit Bulgaria.  I am very pleased to see airlines no longer flying just to Sofia, but that there are now flights to Burgas opening up to people here in Slovakia even more of the beautiful Bulgarian coast.

When the heads of state of two countries meet, we always ask ourselves what connects us and what we can learn from each other. What joins us here is that both of us presidents have a clear attitude and we see it as a great challenge to be combating corruption in both of our countries.

We are also bound by our firm belief that membership in both the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance is of utmost importance to our countries. And both of us, as heads of state, clearly require our governments to fulfill each country's commitments to the North Atlantic Alliance.

Both Slovakia and Bulgaria have difficulty with young, talented people going abroad, not being able to keep them at home. However, it is interesting that among the countries in the European Union, Bulgaria is the absolute leader in women employed in IT. I asked president Radev how Bulgaria managed to do it. Reaching that level is a challenge we in Slovakia would like to achieve.

That is why I also welcomed very much the signing of cooperation agreements between our universities and press agencies, too, from the point of view of building relations.

What can Slovakia do to help Bulgaria and be an inspiration? It is the process of Bulgaria’s adoption of the euro. Slovakia is a major advocate of the euro and we are doing all we can to help Bulgaria introduce the currency as its own as soon as possible, since it is in Bulgaria’s interest to do so and the country has been making the effort to adopt the euro. Likewise, it is extremely important from the standpoint of tourism for Bulgaria to be also part of the Schengen zone.”