Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
(As prepared for delivery)
It is an honour to welcome Prime Minister Robert Fico at the OECD today. We thank you for being with us and for addressing the OECD Council. Let me also welcome Mr. Ľubomír Vážny - Deputy Prime Minister for Investment; Mr. Peter Pellegrini - State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance; and Mr. Erik Tomáš - Director of Press and Information Department from the Office of the Government. I also thank Ambassador Brocková and her Delegation for their most valuable support in organising this event.
11 April 2013 - Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General and Róbert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic.
>> More photos
Mr. Fico has been Prime Minister of Slovakia since April 2012 and also served as Prime Minister between 2006 and 2010. First elected to Parliament in 1992, he has led the SMER-Social Democracy party since 1999. Besides his longstanding experience as Member of Parliament and his engagement in various other functions, he also served as Head of the Slovak delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Mr. Fico has a PhD in Criminal Law from the Slovak Academy of Sciences and has graduated as juris doctor from the Comenius University in Bratislava. He is author of numerous articles and books, and is lecturer at Universities in the Slovak Republic and abroad.
Prime Minister Fico has defined as a key priority of his Government the implementation of a programme for social stability, aiming at alleviating the impacts of the crisis and establishing long-term goals for the economic, social, environmental and technological development of Slovakia. Under his leadership Slovakia went social as we say at the OECD!
In pursuing these goals, Slovakia is building on a decade of continued and rapid convergence towards the living standards of most advanced OECD economies. Slovakia’s growth in GDP per capita was the highest in the OECD between 2001 and 2011. As a result, the income gap relative to the upper half of OECD countries has narrowed from over 60% in the early 2000s to close to 40%. The country also weathered well the financial crisis that affected its main European trading partners. And only yesterday, Prime Minister Fico has reached an important agreement on investment in Slovakia, which is yet another signal of his solid work agenda and of Slovakia’s attractiveness as an investment destination. Indeed, the Slovak economy is one of the most dynamic economies in the Euro area today.
Slovakia should now translate these achievements into a balanced, fair and sustainable growth. Much has already been achieved but many challenges remain. Slovakia should continue on its path of reform. Of particular importance is the need for new domestic sources of growth, for tackling high youth and long-term unemployment and for improving public administration to put Slovakia on the path of strong, inclusive growth in the years to come.
Prime Minister, the OECD stands ready to help Slovakia and your Government. It is to this end that we presented the 2012 Economic Survey of the Slovak Republic in Bratislava in December. And we are just coming out of a policy seminar, in which we presented our analysis and advice on key policy areas as requested by your Government, in particular on employment, education and public administration reform.
I am glad to report that we are also exploring opportunities for a close cooperation to help Slovakia to attract and make the best use of EU Structural Funds. Prime Minister Fico has just had a good meeting with the President of the European Commission Barroso on Monday, in which they discussed how to increase Slovakia’s absorption capacity to use Structural Funds and agreed to create a Task Force to identify the possible areas for funding. Let me assure you that the OECD stands ready to assist Slovakia in its efforts to use these funds, which benefit the citizens, regions, businesses, and also economic recovery and job creation.
Your Excellency, we look forward to hearing from you and to learn from you how we can continue promoting “better policies for better lives” in Slovakia.
Prime Minister, the floor is yours.