Waldner: “New momentum for the relations between Austria and Slovenia”
State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner pays working visit to Ljubljana
Vienna, 7 October 2011 – “Networking with our neighbours is a basic principle of Austria’s foreign policy. I have noticed an upward tend in the mood and momentum of political and economic relations between Austria and Slovenia“, State Secretary Waldner said on the occasion of his working meetings with Slovene Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Žbogar and State Secretary Dragoljuba Benčina in Ljubljana.
Waldner said that Austria had taken an important step towards fulfilling its obligations under the State Treaty by solving the bilingual place sign issue in Carinthia. “Slovenia appreciates the progress made in this matter, and this creates added trust. I am confident that the constructive dialogue on minority issues will now also bring about progress with regard to the recognition of the German-speaking minority in Slovenia”, Waldner continued. In his meetings, the State Secretary once again emphasised Austria’s concern about the plans to extend the operation of the Krško nuclear power plant and to even expand the plant. Waldner: “The strict criteria of the stress tests agreed at EU level apply to all currently existing nuclear power plants in Europe and to the ones planned to be constructed in future. We are also expecting clear consequences from the investigations carried out by independent experts.”
Various new and highly promising initiatives for more in-depth cooperation have recently developed, especially with Slovenia. One example is the quadrilateral dialogue (with Switzerland and Liechtenstein) on consular and visa issues and human rights. “I suggested close coordination of our four countries with a view to more cooperation in the Alpine region and in the protection of journalists – a topic that is of central importance to us”, the State Secretary explained.
Waldner’s working visit takes place at a time that is very exciting in terms of home affairs: Parliamentary elections are to be held on December 4th. State Secretary Waldner also met the current opposition leader Janez Jansa in Ljubljana, as well as former Foreign Minister Dimitrj Rupel. In this meeting, he expressed his hope that Slovenia would not change its decidedly pro-European attitude even if the elections bring a change of government.
Slovenia and Austria are both pronounced advocates of the South-Eastern European countries joining the European Union. “Together with the future EU member Croatia, Austria and Slovenia would be a strong trio playing a powerful role in the EU expansion process. We should profit from this potential“, the State Secretary stressed.
The 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year will be celebrated with an extensive range of events. The year 2012 will also be marked by Maribor being Cultural Capital of Europe.
“Networking with our neighbours will be most successful if we make good use of all the tools available to us. The Cultural Forum and the Österreich Institut contribute a lot to the firm anchoring of Austria in Ljubljana, also with regard to the arts and culture.”
In the evening, the State Secretary will meet the Mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Jankovic, and visit a cultural centre that is being established in a former bicycle factory.
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