Welcome: Tomi Huhtanen, Director of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies
Opening speech: Mikuláš Dzurinda, President of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, former Prime Minister of Slovakia
Keynote address: Andrej Kiska, President of Slovakia
Mikuláš Dzurinda was elected president of the WMCES in December 2013. He is the former prime minister of Slovakia (1998-2006) and has held various positions in government since first entering politics in 1990. Once he became prime minister and formed a large coalition government in 1998, Dzurinda and his government introduced far-reaching reforms which are credited in enabling Slovakia begin the process of joining the EU and NATO. After being re-elected in 2002, Dzurinda led Slovakia to become a member of the EU and NATO in 2004, a process which he actively took part in from the beginning. Since Slovakia gained independence in 1993, Dzurinda has also held the position of Minister of Transportation and more recently that of Minister for Foreign Affairs (from July 2010 to April 2012). Dzurinda is a founding member of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (SDKÚ-DS) and was chairman of the party from 2000 to 2012. He was elected to the Slovak Parliament following elections in 2012 and is currently a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Relations.
Tomi Huhtanen studied International Politics and Economics at the University of Helsinki and spent a year in Spain at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid studying International Law and Political History. He also holds an MBA degree from the United Business Institutes in Brussels. Tomi started his carrier by working for the Finnish delegation of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. From 1999 to 2007, he was a Political Adviser and subsequently a Senior Adviser for the EPP, mainly focusing on economic and social policy. During this period, he launched the European View policy journal, of which he became Editor-in-Chief. In 2007, Tomi was put in charge of launching the political foundation of the European People’s Party, the Centre for European Studies (renamed the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in 2014); in the same year, Tomi was nominated as the Centre's Director, a post he continues to hold today. Tomi speaks Finnish, Swedish, English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Greek and has basic knowledge of German.
Andrej Kiska studied at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava. He was the founder and CEO of the most successful consumer finance company in Slovakia. In 2005 he sold his shares and started the charity organisation Good Angel to financially support families that suffer from cancer. Andrej Kiska has been the director of Good Angel for 8 years. For his work, he was awarded the Manager of the Year award in 2006 and the Crystal Wing award for Philanthropy in 2011. In 2014, he was elected President of the Slovak Republic.