From the podium

From the podium

Her Excellency Mária Kadleciková (Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Ministry of Agriculture of the Slovak Republic)

Director-General, Your Excellencies, Honoured Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is both a great honour and an exceptional responsibility for me to present the primary address of the Slovak Republic, my homeland, at this decisive assessment meeting of the world's foremost representatives in the new millennium, on the subject of alleviating hunger and malnutrition in the world and the renewal of the obligations set out by the World Food Summit.

Please allow me to use this opportunity to communicate the greatest political will of His Excellency Rudolf Schuster, the President of the Slovak Republic, as well as the Government of the Slovak Republic, to join in an intensification of efforts towards supplementing and revitalising the original obligations approved in the Plan of Action.

At the same time, I would like to thank His Excellency, the Director-General of FAO, and the Government of the Italian Republic for once again organizing this meeting between Heads of State and Government, as well as for the pleasant atmosphere and hospitality.

The Slovak Republic, in the same way as most other members of FAO and UN, is dedicated to applying and implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948) and the Rome Declaration (WFS, 1996), especially in regard to ensuring the fundamental right of every individual – the right to eat. Despite this, I am aware that the complete assurance of sufficient nutrition is closely bound up with political, economic, and social development, not only on a national, but also on an international level.

The perception of current world reality, where the threat of hunger and malnutrition, along with related poverty, jeopardizes not only the traditionally afflicted regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean but also the Old Continent, with a total of 9.5 million undernourished people (note: in global terms, this figure is 777 million people), compels us to pause for reflection and invest the greatest effort into the transition from the theoretical, ineffective level of endeavours made by the global community so far towards fulfilling the obligations of the WFS, with the participation of us all – Heads of State and Government, experts and specialist agencies and programmes with the UN, headed by FAO, as well as the establishment of more effective national and international networks of cooperation, with the direct involvement of non-governmental organizations (note: malnutrition in Europe is concentrated in the Caucasus area – Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Republic of Georgia and Moldavia – and certain countries in the Balkans, especially Albania, Croatia, the area of Kosovo, Bulgaria and of FAO non-members, the Russian Federation), (note: in achieving the primary objective of the WFS, available technical and technological possibilities of mobilization, the promotion of public awareness, and work with the public, as well as other financial resources, including the TeleFood global broadcast, were employed within the framework of international cooperation).

As far as it is able, and in the context of its overall global status and location in the heart of Europe, our country is constantly prepared to contribute its share towards initiatives activities, programmes and projects that lead to an acceleration of the currently slow annual rate of decline in the number of hungry people in the world to a level of 22 million per year. This is why His Excellency, the President of the Slovak Republic, has declared his support for the operative and accelerated realization of the ideas set out by the International Alliance against Hunger and Poverty, as a significant group working on the highest level to combat such a negative and undesirable global issue as food insecurity. We are aware that a number of problems have yet to be solved in this context, especially in areas oriented towards:

- the promotion of new technologies, including biotechnologies, which facilitate greater agricultural production, thus ensuring food security for a greater number of people;

- the malnutrition of children and mothers, targeting food to vulnerable groups and the socially disadvantaged, and seeking optimum trends in guaranteeing nutrition for the young.

- the relationship of the status of women to agricultural development, especially in developing countries;

- solving serious problems regarding the supply of food and agricultural produce, as well as international trade in agro-produce;

- increasing the awareness of the global community when solving problems concerning food safety and quality;

- ensuring adequate supplies of water and irrigation as decisive issues for the optimum development of agricultural production, whilst taking into consideration the impact of climate change, the effects of changes in the character of the country and soil and the associations between other influences, and the conservation of the environment and genetic resources, which would ultimately ensure a dignified life for people dwelling in rural areas (note: constantly recurring droughts over recent years in Central and Eastern Europe have led to a reduction in the volume of agricultural production).

The gradually more favourable international conditions and events such as the Ministerial Declaration at the WTO Conference (Doha, the State of Qatar, November 2001), the G8 Kyoto Protocol, and the recent Rome Declaration signed by NATO and the Russian Federation (29/5/2002), have provided a platform and the general hope for the opening up of an opportunity to attain equal access to the market in agricultural produce, for the alleviation of poverty, and for the improvement of the global security situation (note: the security situation – the fight against terrorism, crisis resolution, disarmament, the deployment of peacekeeping forces).

These favourable signals and the endeavour to improve international conditions also provide an opportunity for countries in transition, including the Slovak Republic, so that in the very near future, with regard to the fight against hunger and malnutrition, they will be able to stand alongside other countries of Europe and the European Union in a close and equal partnership. (note: the vision of a Common European House, the task of assisting dependent countries of the developing world, the Slovak Republic as an OECD member state, the EU integration process, the final phase of negotiations within the framework of the Slovak Republic's EU accession process concerning the important agricultural chapter).

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honoured Delegates, I feel it to be of the utmost importance that the final resolution of our joint Summit promote a strengthening of the significance attached to applying the obligations of the Plan of Action, as well as the incorporation of these obligations into national strategies (the social and economic development of agriculture and nutrition) and into international cooperation. In regard to the fulfilment of these goals, I offer the possibility of employing Slovak experts, academic and scientific research institutes, the mobilization of national resources, a positive attitude towards the building of capacities for food security and safety, and the creation of regulations relevant to this issue in specific areas of rural development and education, with an orientation towards those countries where the population suffers from malnutrition and a lack of food.

I declare that we are prepared to take a stand in realizing the global vision of a life in peace and free of hunger, and in assisting the radical reduction of the number of hungry people on our Planet Earth.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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