Has Bratislava Bush-Putin summit benefited Slovaks?

Bratislava, photo: CTK

George Bush came and went. Slovaks are happy that viewers of international TV networks finally got to hear about Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Although, one big American newspaper had problems placing the country on the map - its editors confused Slovakia with Slovenia!

Bratislava, photo: CTK
Slovaks invested almost 8 million euro in the summit mostly in organizing the security. People ignored the cold weather and packed the square where George Bush delivered a speech. They came out of curiosity.

"I just wanted to hear what he is talking about. It is a real event from the historical point of view. I don't think both Bush and Putin will come to Bratislava a second time so I just wanted to see it."

Do residents of Bratislava think this summit is a good investment for the country? The Media Research Department of Slovak Radio conducted a public opinion survey regarding the summit. The head of the department, Ivan Secik says that generally Slovaks regarded it positively.

"Sixty-eight percent of respondents think that the main benefit of this summit is strengthening of the political role of the country. As for negative impacts, about one third are afraid of safety hazards for citizens. 62 percent believe that the money was not well spent."

Local and multinational companies organized conferences for foreign journalists willing to learn more about Slovakia's business environment. It was an attempt to use the summit to promote this country abroad. I attended some of them and I had a hard time to find foreign journalists there. Unfortunately for Slovaks, they haven't noticed yet that the international media pack is usually too busy running after the main actors of an event. All that most foreign journalists saw of Bratislava these days was the road from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the press conferences.