He was born on the 9th of May, 1970 in the town Martin. After graduating from the Slovak Technical University and the Institute of International Relations

at the Faculty of "Komenski" in Bratislava, he began working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic. He was primarily concerned with the countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and South Caucasus. In the period 1998-2002 he was a diplomat at the embassy of Slovakia in Moscow, and from 2005 to 2009 was charge d'affaires at the embassy in Berlin. Since April 2013, he is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Republic in Bulgaria. He is married and has a daughter.

- Your Excellency, on the 1st of July Slovakia takes over the rotating presidency of the EU Council. Your Prime Minister Robert Fico said in Brussels that the Presidency program will be discussed after the 30th of June because it will depend on the decision of the BREXIT referendum. The result is already clear. So, what will your priorities be?

- The program of the Presidency was approved on the 30th of June, but the priorities were developed before that. The Slovak presidency comes at a time when the European Union is facing several challenges that test its stability. One of them is the immigration wave which is a test for our ability to manage our borders so that we can maintain the integrity of Schengen and find a common solution. There were terrorist attacks that have reminded us that in the field of cooperation in internal security we still have reservations. We still bear the consequences of the economic and financial crisis and our economies marked fragile growth. And to all this we must add the outcome of the referendum in the UK, where citizens have chosen to leave the EU. So, as I said, EU is facing new challenges. But Slovakia intends to give the European Union a new energy.

Our priorities are a reflection of our commitment to increase the sustainability of the EU to external and internal crises. It also reflects the ambition to resume the confidence of the EU citizens in the European project. Therefore Slovakia plans to focus on four priorities. These are:  economically strong Europe, the modernization of the common market, sustainable immigration policy and policy of granting asylum and globally engaged Europe. Regarding the economic priority we are convinced that the European economy needs a strong investment impulse that will create sustainable growth and new jobs. As to the modernization of the common market, here we see two moments now. The first is an energy alliance that has the potential to secure supplies of energy at affordable costs both for the industry and for the households. The second is a single digital market procedure, including e-commerce, which we believe has the exclusive opportunity to be achieved. Regarding the sustainable immigration policy and the policy of granting asylum, we are sure that the protection of the external borders and the effective cooperation with third countries are an effective tool for implementing such policy. Finally, when it comes to the globally engaged Europe, we believe that strengthening our relations with the states outside of the EU will make us stronger; because the union cannot be stable without stability, prosperity and democracy in its surrounding countries.

- One of the most pressing problems is overcoming the immigration issue. Slovakia appealed the quotas for refugees, but after closing the borders and the refusal of several European countries to accept migrants, the problem remains largely here in the Balkans... How do you see its solution?

- We think that during our presidency the migration and the BREXIT will be the most important topics. From our perspective, migration is a lasting phenomenon. Since last year, the EU is facing an unprecedented migration flow and this flow has a very strong pressure on the external borders and systems for granting asylum in the Member States. So we want a sustainable EU policy in this area, which will be based on the protection of the external borders, renovation of Schengen, cooperation with third countries and solidarity. We have already adopted some measures that begin to function and bring results. It is necessary, however, to adopt further ones and move from crisis management towards  sustainable management of migration. What we need to do is return to a fully functioning Schengen and protection of the external borders of the EU. During the presidency of the Netherlands a decision was adopted establishing the European Border and Coast office and the Slovak Presidency will actively assist in making it operational. We think that modern technology should be used and Europe must apply the so-called “smart borders”, meaning the use of more reliable and more intelligent informational systems in the field of borders and security. The cooperation with third countries is important as well; mainly countries used for transit, but also those of the migrants. Part of this is the joint system for granting asylum that has already started being discussed; we want to support the development of this discussion, towards reaching consensus between the countries.

- You are talking about an economically strong Europe. Through what decisions during your presidency do you intend to achieve progress in that direction?

- There are several points that should contribute to this. We have to deal more with the issue of the economic and monetary union. We think that long-term measures should be taken for its deepening, private investment should be revived because it is not yet at its pre-crisis levels that it used to be, and we consider that the European Fund for strategic investments would play a fundamental role as an additional tool to the already existing European investment programs. The next point is the union of capital markets, so that they can be major alternative sources of financing small and medium enterprises and remove the remaining barriers to cross-border capital flight. Indeed, the intention of the Slovak Presidency is to make progress in this area. One of the most important pillars is the EU budget, which, as chief investment instrument should reflect the EU priorities. In the field of the Banking Union the Presidency will continue the negotiations for building a single system to guarantee bank deposits, which we consider an important prerequisite for enhancing the security of the depositors and the financial stability.

- Will your presidency offer solutions on issues related to terrorism and security?

- As already stated, the terrorist attacks in Europe showed the need for greater cooperation between Member States in this area, the main framework for combating terrorism are the conclusions of the EU in February and November 2015. What we as presiding country will support is the exchange of information between the relevant authorities of the Member States for combating the financing of terrorism and the problem of hired fighters. There is a draft regulation to exchange information about citizens of third countries within the so-called European Criminal Records Information System. And we expect that during our Presidency the discussion on this regulation will be completed. And this draft document will be ready.

- What is the vision of Slovakia on climate, environment and sustainable development...

- In this area we will focus on creating conditions for a gradual transition of the society towards a competitive economy, effective energy sources and low carbon emissions. We will focus on the implementation of the decisions of the European Council of October 2014, where it was agreed to reduce the emissions by 2030 by 40% compared to 1990. We will continue the discussion about the proposed changes in trade emissions in relation to the Treaty of Paris, we will deal with the steps related to its ratification, and we will support the discussion of the ministers about it. We also want to contribute to the shift towards a green economy in the context of the event "Moving towards a green economy." Our Presidency will create a platform for discussion between the EU Member States and other interested countries. And as far as the protection of nature, we will focus on the regulation of the birds, habitats and biotopes. In July, in Bratislava there will be a ministerial conference on the topic of sustainability of water areas.

- What are the plans of the Embassy in Sofia regarding events during the presidency?

- We begin on the 1st of July, with a public presentation of our priorities, which we organize in cooperation with Pan Europa - Bulgaria. Immediately after that we'll talk about them in the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.

Furthermore, we plan to present Slovakia. We will organize several exhibitions in the capital and other cities. In October in Sofia will be the Week of Slovak film in two cinemas - the G8 and Eurocinema. We plan to organize a seminar for the digital common market. Finally at the end of the Presidency we plan two classical concerts - in Sofia and Plovdiv, of our famous ensemble "Chelomania".

- What is the mood of the Slovaks for their membership in the EU after the referendum in the UK?

- Slovakia has conducted a quick survey, and results are already known. The issue was placed so as to understand whether people in our country want to stay in the EU or not. 62% of the people wanted to stay in. I think the mood of the Slovak population is different from that of Britain. And I really cannot imagine that most of them could vote for our exit from the union. The advantages that have occurred since the entry of Slovakia into the EU cannot be ignored. And if you have to compare what would happen if Slovakia was in the EU and what, if it was not, the differences will be more than obvious.

- And at what level are the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Slovakia? Late last year the president of the Slovak Republic - Andrej Kiska was on a formal visit to Sofia, upon the invitation of the Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev. They officially opened the first innovation ecosystem in the country - "Sofia Tech Park". What sign was that?

- On the one hand we can be satisfied because the volume of the turnover increases. Last year we passed the limit of half a billion euros. But still we cannot be satisfied with the development of the investment. We believe that the Slovak investments in Bulgaria are very low and vice versa - Bulgarian in Slovakia are almost zero. You mentioned the official visit of the President of Slovakia in Bulgaria in December last year when the "Sofia Tech Park" opened. We included this event in the program of his visit. The delegation that accompanied the President was composed of entrepreneurs and scientists - about 60 people. It turned out that there is quite a lot of interest by the Slovak companies operating in the field of information technology and innovation in Bulgaria. This is our one hope and perspective, where our relationship could go. Our companies have established contacts here and we will observe whether these contacts will become an active connection.

Now there are active contacts between the National Centre for Agriculture and Food economy, which is located in the town of Nitra and the Joint Genome Centre in Sofia. We have companies working in Bulgaria in the field of information technologies that take advantage of the fact that there are well-qualified professionals. So we believe that it is in this area that we will be able to establish a more active cooperation. We have companies working in the field of infrastructure projects, transport, and water management.

- You said, however, that trade is increasing. What are the Slovak goods interesting for the Bulgarian market and vice versa, the Bulgarian to the Slovaks?

- As for our export, which is almost 3 times higher than the Bulgarian one, it consists primarily of cars and household appliances. It is true that they are foreign brands, but the output is produced in the country, something that we are proud of. As for the car industry in Slovakia, it is no longer just about the assembly, but also about automated management systems of production.

- At what level is our cooperation in the field of tourism? Do Slovaks visit the sea in Bulgaria?

- The Bulgarian Black Sea coast is very popular among Slovak tourists. Every year 80-90 000 Slovaks arrive to rest here. Bulgaria is sometimes third, sometimes a fourth place in popularity as a holiday destination. In truth and in relation to what happened in other popular destinations for us, we expect growth of tourists in Bulgaria this summer.

But we would be delighted if more Bulgarian tourists come to Slovakia. Although we do not have sea, we can offer beautiful scenery, castles, fortresses, various tourist attractions, spa resorts, water parks and more. So I hope that more and more Bulgarians will discover Slovakia.

- The development of high technology implies cooperation at scientific level. Are there any contacts between schools, universities of both countries? How to develop cultural exchange?

- In Sofia we have no cultural institute, but still we try to present the Slovak culture and its diversity. Slovakia has very popular folklore ensembles. These often visit Bulgaria. For example, last year they joined the Surva festival in Pernik, the International Folklore festival in Burgas, several children's folklore groups were presented as well. We see that there is very strong interest in Slovak literature and every year we manage to present two, three or four books of Slovak authors translated into Bulgarian language. Last year we were able to show a film of one of the best Slovak documentarists  Pavol Barabash, which is well known in Bulgaria. He regularly receives awards at the International Mountain Film Festival in Bansko. I already mentioned what we consider to present on the occasion of the Presidency of the EU Council from now until the end of the year.

As for education, we have major in Slovakian language and culture at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski "and VelikoTarnovo "St. Cyril and Methodius ", where Bulgarian students have the opportunity to learn Slovak.

- How do you feel as an ambassador in Bulgaria? What are your favourite places here? How do you spend your spare time?- I feel very good here not only as an ambassador but as a man who has for some time lived in your country. There are many opportunities to get to know Bulgaria throughout the year. In the summer it's time for beach resorts, in winter it’s time for ski resorts. In spring and autumn we speak about hiking in the mountains or getting acquainted with such charming places like Koprivshtitsa, Tryavna, VelikoTarnovo. There are also various celebrations and festivals that one can visit - Trifon's Day, Rose Festival, etc. Your country is very beautiful and offers great choices. I personally love skiing, so visit Borovets, Bansko, Vitosha. And since my daughter, who is 13 years old, loves riding and participates in competitions, we constantly tour the country.

Photo: «Diplomatic spectrum»