Monday, May 21, 2007

Queen starts visit to Slovakia

AMSTERDAM- Queen Beatrix starts a three-day state visit to new EU member Slovakia today. The monarch's visit is making headlines in the country.
Dutch ambassador Rob Swartbol appeared on the country's most popular breakfast programme on commercial television last week.
ABN Amro, which recently opened a new office in Bratislava, built a tower of orange tulips in a central square in the city. Popular newspapers have been calling the embassy with questions about what crown the queen might be wearing during the visit and who will be cooking for her.
The Netherlands comes with a serious message during the visit however. The visit is not only intended as a sign of mutual friendship, but also to drive home the point that it is important to belong to the European family.

The Slovaks are by no means anti-European, but a strong nationalistic streak has emerged from time to time. The debate on Europe among politicians in the country could be improved, and less polarised, say observers. And the government has tightened its grip in some areas of late, including the energy market and healthcare.
The queen will start her visit in the capital.
According to the statistics, the Netherlands is the largest investor in Slovakia, though only 80 Dutch families reportedly live in the country. Many of them will be on hand to meet the queen on Tuesday.