Excerpts from an interview of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ireland to the Russian Federation, Philip McDonagh, to Tatarstan’s official server www.tatar.ru.

16 November 2009, Monday
1. Mr. Ambassador, your predecessor, Mr. Harman, visited Tatarstan in November last year. It is a great honor for us to receive an Ambassador of Ireland, which is virtually similar to Tatarstan in terms of the size of the territory and the population. Why, in your opinion, are the Ireland companies interested in Tatarstan? What are the areas we might intensify our cooperation in?

I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit Tatarstan. A strong delegation from Tatarstan, led by Prime Minister Minnikhanov, visited Ireland in March. We want to build on this and are open to practical cooperation at many levels, including airport services, education and R&D, equine husbandry and management, engineering, agriculture and food production, information technolgy, and agricultural machinery.

2. In what way is Ireland impacted by the global financial recession and what are the expectations of Ireland from the Treaty of Lisbon?

2009 is very challenging for us as for many others, and GDP will contract. However, exports are holding up well and the key factors that faciliated our recent economic success are still there. We are fortunate to be a prosperous country (3rd highest GDP in the EU) with a high quality of life (5th in the world according to the UN's Human Development Index). The EU and the eurozone are very important to us. The Lisbon Treaty will make the European Union more efficient. It will also enable us to focus more on what is happening beyond the borders of the EU - for example, our relations with Russia and global issues such as climate change.

3. The Republic of Tatarstan is focusing on the development of science and education. Tatarstan is interested in cooperation with Ireland in this area, including the issues of training of Tatarstan students and specialists in Ireland tertiary education institutions and training centers. Will you please enlarge upon the interaction in this area?

We have a particular interest in contacts in the educational area. I bring this message on behalf of a number of institutions in Irelnad, including Trinity College Dublin and the Dublin Institute of Technology. I look forward to learning more about how the Tatarstan Scholarship programme works.

Finally, may I add that I hope during my visit to learn a lot more about the rich cultural heritage of Kazan and Tatarstan. I appreciate very much the excellent preparations that have beem made for my visit by you and your colleagues.

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