Vienna, 26 June 2010 - "We must enhance our abilities and skills to a level that allows us to keep up with the most competitive countries in the world anytime, since this is the only way of safeguarding our high standard of living in the long run. This will also require a precise strategic concept. The central key point to this end is the Danube Region" said Foreign Minister Spindelegger today at the opening of the 15th European Forum Wachau, in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Croatia, Gordan Jandrokovic, and Slovakia, Miroslav Lajcak, as well as EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and the Governor of Lower Austria Erwin Pröll. "Some 30 percent of our exports go into the Danube Region. Austria must present itself in this region as an export-oriented and open country. From the beginning of my term as Foreign Minister, I therefore endeavoured to emphasize the possibilities of the Danube Region in a new Europe, and now we must quickly implement the new strategy for the Danube Region", said the Foreign Minister.
In this context, Spindelegger spoke in favour of an additional impetus toward the internationalization of Austrian business. Despite the crisis in Europe, the Danube Region could prove a growth area with an enormous potential, like a bridge spanning from Bavaria through Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia to as far as Romania and Bulgaria.
"Especially this part of the Danube Region saw a rapid increase in economic and regional cooperation in recent years and decades", said Spindelegger. "We live through a period of change, and Austria and the countries of Eastern Europe could provide additional momentum through a successful strategy for the Danube Region, promoting cross-border cooperation. I believe this potential is far from being exhausted", said the Foreign Minister.
"The thematic focus of the strategy for the Danube Region will be placed on increased networking in the areas of transport and energy, and the promotion of socio-economic developments and the environment", said Spindelegger in connection with the content of the strategy. In this context, the Foreign Minister pointed out to the role of the Danube River as a waterway that needs to become more attractive again: "We must make increasing use of the Danube River, the longest stream within Europe."
Austria’s commitment, however, must not end at the mouth of the Danube: "The adjacent Black Sea and the Caucasus are important regions with a strong potential and high growth. Several meetings I had during my journey through the Southern Caucasus this week have confirmed the great interest in more intensive relations with the EU, and especially with Austria. Austria must not and will not miss the opportunities offered in a region so promising from a political, energy-political, and economic perspective", Spindelegger concluded.
Federal Ministry for European
and International Affairs
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213