Wien, 29. November 2011 Press release

Waldner: “Ambassador Bernhard Stillfried – a life in the service of international understanding”

State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner praised Stillfried’s role in the development of an Austrian cultural and scientific presence in Central and Eastern Europe

Vienna, 29. November 2011 – “Bernhard Stillfried was a decisive influence on Austrian cultural policy abroad for many years. He was an architect of the Austrian cultural and scientific presence in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain”, State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner said today following the death of the former department head of the Austrian Foreign Ministry.

His activities in the service of international understanding included the development of an Austrian cultural presence in Cairo, Istanbul and Teheran and he also was an excellent representative of Austrian cultural and intellectual life in the United Kingdom.

“As head of the cultural policy department in the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Bernhard Stillfried was a visionary in cultural policy in the best Austrian spirit and tradition, and his activities in the Central and East European countries, which are now largely members of the European Union, were of groundbreaking significance. They laid the foundations for the current relations between Austria and these countries”, the State Secretary said. The large network of Austrian libraries and lectorships in particular are based on Stillfried’s pioneering development work.

Waldner pointed out that Stillfried had continued to direct many programmes throughout Central and Eastern Europe for almost two decades after his retirement as the honorary director of the “Österreich-Kooperation” organisation and as President of the Austrian Cultural Association.

“The commitment with which Bernhard Stillfried worked for the unity of Europe in all of its cultural diversity and his many initiatives for a dialogue of the cultures will always be an inspiration for us. His work lives on in the relations he promoted in the area of culture and the sciences”, the State Secretary concluded.

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