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Home >> China
UPDATED: 14:28, February 08, 2007
Slovak PM highlights dialogue, cooperation as key concepts
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Dialogue and cooperation are key concepts in the relationship between Slovakia and China, said the Slovak prime minister yesterday.

"It is our task and responsibility to support the strategic relationship between the European Union (EU) and China," said Robert Fico, whose country is a member of the EU.

Slovakia assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this year.

"Genuine partnership between China and the EU is crucial for global stability and sustainable development in a multi-polar world," Fico told China Daily in an exclusive interview at the Slovak embassy in Beijing Tuesday night.

Fico also said the shared views between the two countries such as on the nuclear program of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) offer more chances to work together.

Fico said joining the European Union was a wise and historic step for his country. The experience of Slovakia showed that membership of the EU is beneficial.

"That's why I appreciate China's position of supporting the integration of other countries into the union," he said. "A country in the union means stability in the region. That is why countries such as Croatia and other States in the Balkans should be adopted by this organization as soon as possible."

Fico said he appreciated China's call for the establish-ment of a harmonious society both at home and abroad.

"Slovakia is among the countries that support solving all problems and tensions, first of all, by dialogue and negotiation, not by using arms immediately," Fico said.

"Slovakia withdrew soldiers from Iraq because we believe the problems in Iraq should be solved in a completely different way."

In a world plagued by violence, the idea of establishing a harmonious society focused on respect, understanding and sharing, "should be welcome by the international community", he said.

"From the perspective of stability and security we recognize the unique position and influence of China, and we would like to continue our good cooperation with China as a trusted partner and responsible international player through various forums, including our common UNSC membership."

Economic issues

Fico said economic issues were at the top of his cabinet's agenda, which was one of the reasons he was visiting China.

"I believe that my visit to China will contribute significantly to the economic dimension of foreign policy between Slovakia and China."

Chinese-Slovak economic cooperation has been growing in recent years.

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that the trade volume between China and Slovakia amounted to $913.68 million last year, up 85.9 percent from the year before.

Slovak exports to China were worth $220 million last year, almost twice as much as in 2005, according to statistics provided by Slovak Embassy in Beijing. By contrast they were worth only $4 million in 1998.

Slovakia exports metallurgical products, raw materials, chemical products and healthcare technology to China. It imports Chinese textiles and garments, leather products and household appliances.

"There is room for Slovak exporters to enhance their commercial relations with their Chinese partners in such fields as road construction, electrical equipment technologies for oil and gas equipment," Fico said.

Slovakia's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of 7.9 percent last year.

Impressive growth

Fico said he expected that impressive growth to continue into this year.

"The year of 2007 can be the most successful year in the history of Slovakia from an economic point of view," he said.

Fico said he would like to see more Chinese high-tech firms invest in his country.

"We certainly support the interest of some Chinese companies to start or increase their business activities in Slovakia in high value-added industry."

At a business forum on Tuesday, Fico invited Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Slovakia, promising to provide favorable tax policies and a sound investment environment.

Fico was on a five-day visit to China, his first since he took office in September, and his fifth since 1999.

He compared his experiences of Shanghai in 2001 and 2003 and said he was surprised.

"I could not follow Shanghai in these two years," he said.

"So I can only congratulate China for what people are doing in this country."

Fico said people in Slovakia did not have much information about China, and highlighted the need to organize more exchanges of people, especially in the form of tourism.

"My experiences in China are fantastic, and I will be a messenger of good news from China to Slovakia," he said.

Source: China Daily

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