State visit by the President of the Slovak Republic – Welcoming ceremony

Due to illness, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, was unable to participate in the State visit to Canada by the President of the Slovak Republic. Justice Karakatsanis, Deputy to the Governor General of Canada, welcomed the President on the Governor General’s behalf.

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January 30, 2024


To begin with, let us acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people who have lived on and cared for this land for thousands of years.

On behalf of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada—who regretfully is unable to be here today due to illness—I welcome Your Excellency Zuzana Čaputová, President of the Slovak Republic, and Mr. Juraj Rizman to Canada.

And a warm welcome on this winter day to the entire Slovak delegation.

Canada and the Slovak Republic enjoy close relations based on strong ties between our peoples. There are more than 68,000 Canadians of Slovak origin. Many of them came to Canada after the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring uprising against Soviet oppression in 1968. They found refuge, and a home, in Canada. Since then, they and their descendants have played an important role in contributing to the diversity and strength of Canada.

In addition, our two countries enjoy a positive and mutually beneficial economic relationship through trade and investment. We are allies in NATO, standing together to ensure transatlantic security. And we nurture our ties through sport, especially hockey.

These strong ties form the basis of friendship between our two nations. Yet, it remains vital that countries engage in face-to-face diplomacy and dialogue so that we can continue to work together. In so doing, we will continue to learn about each other, our challenges and our opportunities for further co‑operation. Through this work, we will strengthen the ties we share.

As you visit Ottawa today and Toronto tomorrow, you will engage with Canadians on issues of common interest that impact our peoples’ safety and prosperity.

  • As NATO members, we have a shared interest in peace and security, and we are working together to achieve this. Our forces, for example, are proudly serving side-by-side in Latvia—a great testimony to our commitment to deterrence and to the defence of NATO’s Eastern Flank.
  • And as we continue to forge stronger trade relationships, we are committed to addressing climate change and exploring sustainable energy resources.

At a time of global unrest, our countries have much to gain by enhancing our trade relationship, preserving the rules-based international order, and jointly working towards global peace and security.

On behalf of the Governor General and all Canadians, welcome, once again, to Canada. We hope that your stay here is both enjoyable and productive.

Thank you.