No need to fear wave of emigration from Slovakia, says official

09-07-2004

Slovakia has approximately 5 million inhabitants. There are another 2 million 000 Slovaks living outside the country. Many feared that this number would even increase after May 1st, when the country entered the EU and labour markets of some of the member countries opened themselves to the newcomers.

Photo: European CommissionPhoto: European Commission Although yearly approximately 30 000, mostly young people leave Slovakia. Claude Balaz, envoy of the government for Slovaks living abroad believes there is no reason to believe a mass migration will follow Slovakia's EU entry. However migration is a constant phenomenon. Here are some Slovaks and Czechs talking about why they left for the UK after May 1st:

"I came to the UK to make some money. I would like to work here for a couple of months and that's enough for me and then I want to go back to my country..."

"I came here for a better job, for experience and to get to know different life and people..."

"I came to England to improve my English..."

The biggest percentage of foreign Slovaks, or in other words people who are of Slovak origin, but live outside of Slovakia live in the USA. In Europe the biggest Slovak community is in the Czech republic. Mr. Balaz continues:

"In the 1880s Slovaks migrated in masses oversees, mainly to the USA. After the first world war the interest of Slovaks turned towards western European countries, mainly because Slovakia was devastated as a country. The next migration wave of Slovaks came with fascism, and again the establishment of communism, and the year 1968 caused another wave of emigration."

For those who long for their homeland, but also for adventurous travelers who are lost or in need in a foreign country various associations and meeting groups within the Slovak community are formed.

Such associations play a very important role in the lives of the people as well as in disseminating the good name of their country abroad. Sometimes they are a bridge between the country where they live and their old home country.

The Slovak community in the UK was never too large, approximately 1000 Slovaks live there. Because the UK is one of the few countries that opened its labour market to the EU newcomers, this number is currently increasing.

"Here, in my opinion, are too many people from our country or from Poland, Czech republic, from Hungary..."

"I think they help each other and they are friendly...."

"Well we are the community and we are here to help as much as we can and sometimes people don't appreciate it..."

"Here are Czechoslovak parties first Friday every month..."

"For improving your English it's better to avoid speaking in your own language..."

"I got my first job, as a recommendation from a friend, a Slovak guy. And I think many jobs are passed from a Slovak to another Slovak..."

Say Slovaks living in the UK.

Although experts say the entry of Slovakia in to the EU should not cause a great wave of emigration, migration of Slovaks will continue. Although it is a constant phenomenon, it always depends on conditions of the country people are leaving, as well as on the conditions in the country they are heading towards.

09-07-2004

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