Vienna, 18 June 2013 - "The Austro-Italian Society constitutes an important support mechanism in the relations between our two countries", said State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka on the occasion of the presentation of this year's PaN Prize to the Austro-Italian Society. PaN - Partner of All Nations - provides support to the more than 100 friendship associations that exist in Austria, with the goal of maintaining relationships with the individual partner countries through a multitude of activities.
"The role of networks such as the Austro-Italian Society is particularly apparent during times of crisis when neighbourly help is of the essence. For instance, the Society contributed to the rebuilding of the school in Corporeno di Cento after the earthquake in the province of Ferrara in 2012 and I would like to express my thanks for this assistance", the State Secretary continued.
Ever since it was founded 40 years ago, the Austro-Italian Society has made important contributions towards deepening the personal contacts between Austrians and Italians. The Society was founded in 1973, shortly after the coming into force of the South Tyrol Package. Today, South Tyrolean autonomy is recognised in Europe as a model for the effective protection of minorities and dynamic economic development.
With a volume of 16.5 billion Euros, Italy remains Austria's second most important trading partner, followed by the US and Switzerland. The flow of tourists in both directions is also remarkable: with 3 million overnight stays, Italy is the fourth most important player in Austrian tourism, while Italy remains the most popular holiday destination for Austrians.
"The historical, cultural, political and economic relations between our two countries are close and amicable. For this reason, Italy holds a special position among our neighbouring countries", Lopatka concluded.
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