Vienna, 28 October 2005 - "The Austrian aid after the tsunami has created a feeling of neighbourhood between our country and Sri Lanka. During today’s visit Governor Wickramaratne has therefore expressed his deep gratitude for our quick and effective help immediately after the tsunami", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik after her talks with the Governor of Southern Sri Lanka, Kingsley Wickramaratne, in Vienna.
"The Governor emphasised that Austria had been one of the first countries to help Sri Lanka. In particular, he stressed the aid provided by the Austrian armed forces, who contributed to the prevention of epidemics by sending a water treatment unit", said Plassnik.
The Governor also informed the Foreign Minister that the Government of Sri Lanka had decided only a few days ago that foreign aid organisations would receive the same tax treatment as native buyers when acquiring land for the construction of villages. "With this decision, the Government of Sri Lanka has fulfilled an important wish of the Austrian aid organisations", said Plassnik.
"What we have to do now is to help the business community and the educational sector in the south of Sri Lanka to get back on their feet. The Governor expressed his thanks for the cooperation with the Klessheim School of Tourism, which trains students from Sri Lanka and which will cooperate in building up a school of tourism in Sri Lanka", added Plassnik.
Finally, Governor Wickramaratne also informed the Foreign Minister of his view of the forthcoming presidential elections in Sri Lanka. The elections were of utmost importance for the continuation of the peace process. He therefore asked the Foreign Minister for support under Austria’s EU Presidency.
Note to editorial offices: Pictures of the meeting can be downloaded from the homepage of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs under www.aussenministerium.at.
Contact for further enquiries:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Tel.: (+43/5) 01150-3262
Fax: (+43/5) 01159-213