Wier, 29. November 2011 Press release

Cultural and economic relations as a firm basis of friendship between the Republic of Korea and Austria

State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner on an official visit to South Korea

Vienna, 29 November 2011 – “In spite of the great geographical distance between the two countries, Austria is well-known and well-liked in South Korea. In our excellent bilateral relations, culture is a key factor. Austria is considered a top address by South Korean music students. Exhibitions of Austrian art are among the most successful in Seoul,” said State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner following his arrival in Seoul. Prior to attending the international development aid forum in Busan, Waldner today met with the South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister, Park Suk-hwan.

“We will take the opportunity and use the forthcoming 120th anniversary of the assumption of diplomatic relations between Vienna and Seoul as a stimulus for lending additional momentum to our partnership,” affirmed the State Secretary after the meeting.

“Our bilateral economic relations are developing at an incredible pace. In the first half of 2011, our exports to South Korea increased by more than 50%. With economic growth of over 6% in 2010 South Korea remains a market with great future perspectives for our exports, and there is still considerable further potential” emphasised Waldner. “In this context it is particularly green business and renewable energy that spring to mind. South Korea is highly interested in them. As for the Winter Olympics, which will be held in South Korea in 2018, Austria can undoubtedly offer a great deal of know-how.” Only a short time ago South Korea had concluded a free trade agreement with the EU, he added, which ultimately would also benefit Austrian firms.

The State Secretary also identified shared interests regarding a number of global issues such as disarmament, development policy, human rights and the fight against corruption. Waldner pointed out that South Korea had signed the Agreement on the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA), which has its headquarters in Laxenburg near Vienna.

During the exchange of opinions, relations with neighbouring North Korea were also addressed. “Lasting peace and stability on the Korean peninsula are enormously important for both the region and the world as a whole. The pressure being exerted by the international community on North Korea to abolish its nuclear programme and reassume the six-party talks must not wane. Following the alarming military incidents in 2010 the increasing readiness for dialogue between north and south is an encouraging signal,” concluded Waldner.

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