Vienna, 19 September 2013 – Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Hungarian Honorary Consulate in Graz, Austrian State Secretary Dr. Reinhold Lopatka – in the presence of his Hungarian counterpart Gergely Pröhle – highlighted the close relations between Austria and Hungary. "Austria and Hungary share a century-long common history that has generated a tight network of economic, cultural and human relations; and this relationship also outlasted the periods of artificial borders – such as the time of the Iron Curtain. 2014 will see the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain, an event that we are going to celebrate with joy, seeing that the former border region has become a lively and dynamic place for encounters."
According to Lopatka, good and close neighbourly relations are essential prerequisites for stability in Europe, but he also said that the larger context must never be ignored: "We will only be able to retain our position as a stakeholder in international competition and be perceived as a global player when we act together with our neighbours in a successful and strong European Union. The EU safeguards our economic prosperity; after all, seventy percent of our exports go to other EU countries, a market with more than 500 million people. This strengthens the Austrian economy and creates jobs."
The State Secretary continued: "The 'eastward enlargement', as it is called, had particularly positive effects on our economy. Between 1995 and 2011, our investment in new EU member states increased fifteen-fold! The enlargement of 2004 helped to create 9000 jobs per year. And this trend continues. When we look to our neighbours in Southeast Europe, the Austrian success story is repeating itself. Hundreds of Austrian companies are successful in the region, and we are among the top 3 investors in all Western Balkan states. This pioneering spirit is the guarantor for Austria's good economic situation.”
State Secretary Lopatka also addressed the problems Austrian companies are facing in Hungary: "A reliable legal framework is essential for our companies to act as investors. This is also a reason why we support the Western Balkan States on their way towards the EU: as members they will have to harmonise their legal systems with that of the EU. We regret to say that there are still problems in Hungary; we discuss them regularly with our colleagues in the Hungarian government and try to work out solutions together. We demand in any case that European regulations are complied with. It cannot be that the rules of the game are changed after the game has started. It must be our common goal to create growth and jobs in our region!"
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