UAE, ABU DHABI - Diplomacy
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, the Slovak Republic
Miroslav LajÄák is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. He studied Law at the Law Faculty of the Comenius University in Bratislava and continued his studies at the Moscow State Institute for International Affairs. He began his diplomatic career in 1988 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic in Prague, then after the split of Czechoslovakia on January 1993 at the Slovak Embassy in Moscow. Following his return to Slovakia he led the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic and the Office of the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic. Following a number of later diplomatic posts, he was appointed to his current position in 2012.
Slovakia considers the UAE, together with other partners in the GCC, an important member of the international community seeking peaceful cooperation and supporting positive development in different parts of the world. My official visit to the UAE was aimed at elaborating on the mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries in various fields, including economic cooperation, trade, and the extension of the contractual and legal bases. In that respect, we have discussed with our Emirati partners the possible implementation of joint ventures. Of course, we are also looking forward to intensify the political dialogue and cooperation in multilateral forums. Slovakia exports to UAE many traditional commodities such as automobiles, products made by our engineering and defense industry, medical technology and equipment, decorative glass, and the highest quality crystal glass, special foodstuffs, and mineral water/soft drinks. We also provide medical services and spa treatments, such as balneotherapy in the Slovak spa town of PiešÅ¥any, which is popular in GCC countries. We are witnesses to a steady growth in the trade exchange between Slovakia and the UAE; however, what we cannot be satisfied with is the total volume of trade. We have much more to offer to each other, therefore the contacts between our authorities and business communities should intensify in order to identify new forms of cooperation. The growing importance of our mutual relations and our firm belief in their further strengthening led us to the decision to open our Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2013. I am sure that this step will help boost our cooperation, especially in the economic and trade area.
The UAE government is striving to achieve a harmonious balance between economic development and sustainable development, between openness to the world and the preservation of traditions. Confronted with major international challenges, the UAE projects an image of dynamism and responsibility to the world that commands respect. We all know that the lifestyle and infrastructure of the UAE places the country high on the list of employment destinations for many expatriates. The UAE is one of the most important global financial and trade centers. It is an important crossroads in air transportation, a country of large investment projects, which attracts businessmen from all over the world due to the high business potential and free financial capital flows. The UAE is attractive for young people due to dynamics in the development of the country. Slovakia became, both at home and abroad, a synonym for a country with outstanding science and technology, where exceptionally educated and creative people produce high-quality and innovative goods and services. The Slovak community in the UAE works mostly in the airline industry and for major global IT companies like IBM, Dell, and Microsoft.
We are well aware of the fact that in order to facilitate the broadening of bilateral economic cooperation, we need to speed-up the process of establishing a basic legislative framework. Therefore, we intend to successfully conclude negotiations on two agreements dealing with the promotion and protection of investments and the abolition of double taxation. The signing of these two agreements will create favorable conditions for bilateral economic cooperation and can give additional assurance to investors that their investments will be adequately protected.
I would like to once again thank the UAE for the decision to exempt 13 EU member states—Slovakia included—from the need to acquire pre-entry visas to the UAE. This will enable Slovak citizens to travel to the UAE more often, and I am convinced that the UAE could easily become one of the top holiday destinations for Slovak tourists. I would like to emphasize that the agreement on the mutual recognition of driving licenses between the Slovak Republic and the UAE is not in effect yet; the legislative process has barely begun. We hope that we will be able to sign this agreement in the near future and increase the quality of life of Slovak citizens in the UAE.
Slovakia can support Abu Dhabi’s efforts in economic diversification and build a knowledge-based economy through investing in the sectors that are envisioned by the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. We look to contribute to the sustainable economic development process in the Emirate by participating in joint investment projects supported through know-how and technology transfer, all the while providing specialized education and training together with our UAE partners. Our vision is that Slovakia will be a business hub that connects and supports businesses between Abu Dhabi and the EU. We would like to attract knowledge-based, innovative, and value-added businesses in Abu Dhabi and provide opportunities to Abu Dhabi businesses to have a presence in the EU through our global business network. The main sectors of mutual cooperation are in the areas of air transportation, defense-specialized industry, software services, and products and information technologies for government institutions, as well as for the financial sector, railway carriages and transportation technologies, infrastructure development, oil and gas drilling technologies, construction, specialty foodstuff production technology, equipment for power stations, decorative and crystal glass, and mineral water/soft drinks. We would like to enhance cooperation in healthcare, including pharmaceutical products, medical equipment, and specialized physiotherapy and spa treatment (balneotherapy), as well as tourism. Within the framework of possible cooperation, we also see room for cultural cooperation and education. Slovakia has a tradition of long standing in providing specialized physiotherapy services and education combined with the modern medical science. In Slovakia, there are unique natural resources—more than 1,200 mineral and thermal springs, many of a healing nature. Our 22 spa resorts provide complete medical care and offer effective treatments based on usage of mineral and thermal waters. I cannot omit mentioning that Slovakia has excellent conditions for enjoying active holidays in summer and in winter. More than 40 well-equipped ski resorts with seven five-star ski resorts, 12 golf resorts, marked cycling tracks, mountains suitable for hiking, trekking, and mountaineering, and rivers and lakes suitable for water sports are waiting to be explored.
© The Business Year – September 2014
UAE, ABU DHABI - Health & Education
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