Ferrero-Waldner’s "Asian week:" Concluded today with the visit by the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka
Vienna, 11 July 2003 - After the foreign ministers of Indonesia, Thailand and Mongolia, the Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner received Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Tyronne Fernando, for a working meeting today.
"By promoting the peace process, the government of Sri Lanka has been creating a sounder basis for intensifying bilateral relations between our two countries," Ferrero-Waldner stated at the press conference after the working meeting today. "There is still a lot of potential that can be exploited, notably as regards economic relations. Sri Lanka, a country with an open society and a liberal market economy, and Austria, an export-oriented economy and a member of the European Union, should make an effort to enhance the cooperation between the two countries to their mutual advantage." At present, about 30 Austrian companies have representations in Sri Lanka. According to Ferrero-Waldner, a potential for enhancing economic relationships exists above all in the fields of energy, environmental technologies and the railways, as well as in the hospital sector. Sri Lanka, on its part, voiced great interest in enhancing its cooperation with Austria in the field of tourism. "Since 2002 Austria has been helping to support the peace process in Sri Lanka: In February 2002 Austria, on a joint initiative, organised the first conflict management seminar in Stadtschlaining. In view of the positive results achieved and the interest shown on the part of Sri Lanka, the decision was made to continue the seminars. A further seminar was held in Stadtschlaining in February 2003; for August 2003 two workshops are planned on the topic of 'Training in Conflict Transformation' in Sri Lanka," the Austrian Foreign Minister said.
"As the headquarters of the CTBTO (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization) and HCOC (The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation) institutions, Austria has a major interest in actively involving Sri Lanka in these two instruments," Ferrero-Waldner stated. Both foreign ministers stressed the importance of the United Nations, particularly for small countries. A further topic touched upon in this context was a possible candidature of Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando for the office of UN Secretary General. As Fernando pointed out, there has only been one Asian head of the United Nations in the organisation's history to date.