50th anniversary of “The 1961 Vienna Summit”
Starting point of a successful tradition of dialogue and valuable research projects - Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and Minister of Science Karlheinz Töchterle open conference at Vienna Diplomatic Academy
Vienna, 19 May 2011 – “It was the 1961 Vienna Summit that focused international attention on Austria as a meeting place during the Cold War, thus constituting the starting point for a long tradition of dialogue. Today – 50 years later – Austria is regarded as a hub for peace and dialogue which offers room for discussion, but above all as a centre of action for efforts by the international community,” stated Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger today at the opening of a three-day conference on The 1961 Vienna Summit: Kennedy and Khrushchev, which is being held at Vienna’s Diplomatic Academy. The Minister of Science and Research, Karlheiz Töchterle, emphasised the importance of research projects on this subject.
“Dealing with our own history is one of the priorities of Austria’s international cultural policy and this also contributes actively to mutual understanding in the interests of harmonious cooperation and interaction within Austria, in Europe and beyond,” continued Spindelegger. In particular, he expressed his thanks to the Austro-Russian Commission of Historians whose purpose is to undertake an academic study of the history of bilateral relations over the past two centuries.
As a result of the work of the Austro-Russian Commission of Historians, which was initiated and supported by the Foreign Ministry, the conference on the 1961 Vienna Summit is an excellent example of successful international research cooperation. “For about ten years now the Ministry of Science and Research has been promoting international research projects which are carried out under the auspices of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research on War Consequences. The objective is to close research gaps using relevant primary sources in Russian archives,” said Minister of Science and Research Karlheinz Töchterle.
A breakthrough came when the then Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel pressed for permission to review former Soviet documents on Austria’s post-war occupation during a working visit to Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and President Vladimir Putin at the beginning of 2002. Up to that time key questions regarding the Soviet occupation of Austria had remained unanswered for lack of primary sources, or had been reviewed only rudimentarily with the help of Western sources. Subsequently, the Ministry funded the international research project The Red Army in Austria. Soviet Occupation 1945 - 1955. The research project was completed in time for the 60th anniversary of the end of the war and the 50th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty with the publication of a comprehensive two-volume work (The Red Army in Austria) and a conference. “The volumes have since become standard works on Austrian post-war history,” said Minister Töchterle.
The work on the research project The 1961 Vienna Summit was carried out within the framework of a three-year research project by over sixty historians and prominent figures from Europe, Russia and the USA, who formed a large research network headed by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research on War Consequences (directed by Stefan Karner, coordinated by Barbara Stelzl-Marx). The implementation of this project could be realised primarily thanks to funding from the Ministry of Science and Research, the Ministry for European and International Affairs, the province of Lower Austria, the City of Vienna and other contributors.
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