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4 July 2016
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Opening gala concert to mark the start of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU

The first ever Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union began on Friday 1 July with an opening gala concert in the new building of the Slovak National Theatre. The programme brought together top Slovak opera soloists, music bands and folklore. The gala concert was attended by the President of the Slovak Republic, Andrej Kiska, the Prime Minister, Robert Fico, the Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, Andrej Danko, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

According to President Kiska, Slovakia has taken over the Presidency at a time which many consider to be a time of crisis. ‘This has made us uneasy, sad, surprised, maybe also tired because of the unclear notions of how to do things better,’ he said. He described the Slovak Presidency's priorities as useful and concrete. Slovakia will be ‘an attentive, patient and empathetic host and moderator, encouraging everyone who speaks about self-reflection and cares about the European Union,’ he added.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, surprised guests with his speech in Slovak language. He reminded them that Slovakia is facing a difficult task. ‘It has a great responsibility for daily management of Europe in the next six months and for a process of revitalisation of our community,’ said Tusk.

Prime Minister Robert Fico sees the summit of 27 EU leaders to be held in Bratislava in September as the highlight of the Slovak Presidency. He predicted that many events would affect the Presidency's agenda. ‘We cannot create events, but we can give these events certain direction. That's our goal, that's what we want to achieve during the Slovak Presidency,’ he said.

The gala concert was opened by the GASP dance ensemble performing unconventional dance variations on Slovak rhythms. The performance culminated in an unexpected interpretation of the European anthem by the vocal music group Fragile, rhythmically accompanied by the GASP dancers.

The concert continued with performances by renowned Slovak opera soloists Adriana Kučerová, Jana Kurucová, Miroslav Dvorský and Štefan Kocán, accompanied by the choir and orchestra of the Slovak National Theatre, conducted by Rastislav Štúr. The rock band IMT Smile and the legendary folk dance ensemble Lúčnica, which was one of the highlights of the evening, offered a unique fusion of modern music and folklore.

Prominent Slovak actors such as Mária Kráľovičová, Zuzana Kronerová, Maroš Kramár, Dušan Jamrich or František Kovár introduced short films presenting Slovak music, drama, literature, fine arts, sportsmen or Slovak inventions that have already 'conquered' the world, or are hoping to do so soon.

The final concert of the series to celebrate the start of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU will be held on 7 July in the Centre for Fine Arts BOZAR in Brussels. More information about this event can be found here.

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