Speech held by Dr. Massimo Barra, IFRC Vice-President

at the Municipality of Bratislava, on the occasion of the World Red Cross Red Crescent Day celebrations, 5 May 2005

Dami, Pani, Dear friends,

thank you for inviting me representing our common house, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. When we speak in schools, we say that the International Red Cross is a family with a father, a mother and 181 children. The father is the ICRC, the mother is the IFRC, and the children are the National Societies.
Today, I represent the mother !!

It is always a big pleasure to come to Bratislava, this is my 8th visit, and I really feel at home. I feel at home first of all because I meet a sister National Society where I have many friends since many years and that is well representing the Red Cross World for the leadership of his President and of Bohdan Telgarsky, who is also well known in Geneva as a member of the Health Commission, that many people consider the most important Commission of the Federation.

But today, such a pleasure is even stronger, because we are here to celebrate the birth and the visionary ideas of a man who – almost 150 years ago – has changed our lives and the lives of millions of people around the World. This man is Henry Dunant, the founder of our Movement.

During the last years, I had the chance to know in deep the Slovak Red Cross, its programs and its people, and I realized that as Bratislava is the heart of Europe, the Slovak Red Cross is the bridge between the two parts, the two souls of our Continent, that are now closer than before, and that will become even closer in the future, all together part of the same European Union..

Thanks to enthusiasm and commitment of the Slovak Red Cross, and in particular of Dr. Peter Duchaj and Silvia Kostelna, ERNA, the European Red Cross and Red Crescent Network on HIV/AIDS and TB, that I founded 8 years ago and that is hosted at your Secretariat, boosted its activities and is now a solid reality in the international arena.

And this is not a surprise, because HIV/AIDS rates in your Country, that are amongst the lower in the world, are the evident result of good, balanced, human and foreseeing policies in this field. And I also want to remember the key role played by the Slovak Professor Mayer, one of the most respected scientists in the world in the field of infective diseases and in particular of HIV/AIDS.

I would also like us to remember your former Youth President, Marcel Stefanik, a committed and devoted youth leader who is playing an important role at the European level, and who – I am sure – the Slovak Red Cross will continue to support in the future.

Some years ago, the slogan of the 8th of May was “The Red Cross is Young”. Oscar Zuluaga, has come from the Secretariat in Geneva to show how important is to open the doors to young people and to volunteers, who are the added value of our Movement.

I encourage you to open more and more the doors of red Cross to young people and to volunteers, but also to involve vulnerable people, not only as recipients of our action, but also as key actors.

Thank you for what you have done until now! Thank you for what you will do in the future!