Introductory remarks by
Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD
OECD, Paris, 16 January 2017
It is a great privilege to welcome Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, to the OECD.
Allow me to begin by congratulating the Prime Minister on Slovakia’s successful first presidency of the Council of the European Union. Mr Fico has steered the work of the EU in the midst of major developments on the political front – in the UK and elsewhere.
But this climate of uncertainty created by recent events did not prevent your government, Prime Minister, from delivering on its vision of a globally engaged Europe. The ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement by the EU, the signature of the CETA (EU-Canada) agreement, and the progress made on BEPS implementation are major achievements. Congratulations!
On the domestic front, the Slovak economy has begun 2017 in good shape: GDP growth has exceeded 3½ per cent in 2015 and 2016, and we project similar growth rates for the next two years (3.4% for 2017; 3.8% in 2018). Unemployment is at its lowest rate in seven years. And your government’s draft budget and medium-term fiscal plan are poised to achieve a surplus by 2019.
Excellencies, dear colleagues, after this meeting, the Prime Minister and I will sign a Memorandum of Understanding which will see the OECD working evermore closely with Slovakia – and for Slovakia – as it builds on its achievements to increase transparency and strengthen the fight against corruption. This is another positive example of how Slovakia is engaging actively with some of the recommendations we made in our last Economic Survey (November 2014).
Efforts are already underway to improve public procurement, strengthen the judicial system, and promote open government. I look forward to our strengthened co-operation on these and other issues.
Finally, I look forward to discussing Slovakia’s emerging plans for its forthcoming Presidency of the UN General Assembly, and the role of the OECD in supporting UN efforts, including on the SDGs.
Dear colleagues, Prime Minister Fico needs little introduction. A distinguished lawyer, his political career spans 25 years. He now serves as Prime Minister for the second time, having first led the government from 2006 to 2010. In addition to leading the Smer-SD (Direction – Social Democracy) party since its inception in 1999, Mr Fico has served on the Council of Europe, as well as on several important parliamentary committees in Slovakia.
Prime Minister: welcome! The floor is yours.