Lopatka: "Sri Lanka chooses Austria as a partner in Central and Southeast Europe”
Cooperation in business and interreligious dialogue
Vienna, 12 June 2013 – "Sri Lanka is enjoying rapid economic development at growth rates of up to 7%. Ever more Austrian companies are using the market opportunities in Sri Lanka and are successful with expertise in the hospital sector, water preparation and construction of bridges and railway infrastructure projects. Both countries are greatly interested in deepening their successful economic ties. We support domestic export business with soft loans of 136 million euros and are contributing to the sustainable development of Sri Lanka", State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said after a meeting with Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris, who had had a previous meeting with Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger.
Foreign Minister Peiris announced that a business delegation from Sri Lanka would visit Austria in autumn as part of the drive to intensify economic cooperation between the two countries. "Sri Lanka views Vienna as the gateway to Central and Southeast Europe and wishes to develop its contacts to the region starting from here. At the same time, more and more tourists from Europe and Austria are discovering Sri Lanka as a holiday destination. We support further expansion of the Sri Lankan tourism sector, for example by offering grants for study courses at the Klessheim Tourism School", the State Secretary said.
"The fact that many international organisations are domiciled in Vienna is also of great interest for Sri Lanka. In this context, Austria has offered cooperation in the framework of the Anti-Corruption Academy and interreligious dialogue to which Sri Lanka as a multi-religious and multi-ethnic state can provide valuable input", Lopatka said. Foreign Minister Peiris expressed great interest in the work of the King Adbullah Dialogue Centre and emphasised the importance of dialogue as a means of preventing conflict. He also commented positively on Austria's commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation and said that Sri Lanka aims to play a more pro-active role as a facilitator and bridge builder in these fields in its region.
State Secretary Lopatka praised Sri Lanka's efforts in the reconciliation and reconstruction process since the end of the civil war in the country and inquired about the implementation of the recommendations made by the National Reconciliation Commission. Foreign Minister Peiris said that the focus was on the return of internally displaced people and on providing them with essential supplies. The economic development in the Northern Province is a pillar of reconciliation policy, he said. "The provincial elections in autumn offer the opportunity to form a new Tamil leadership. Sri Lanka is making good headway in the reconciliation process. The wounds of more than 25 years of conflict will, however, take time to heal", the State Secretary concluded.
A series of jointly organised events and further mutual visits are planned for 2014 to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Austria and Sri Lanka.
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