Wien, 15. May 2013 Press release

Lopatka: Agreement reached on Austro-Slovak Business Forum

Over 2000 Austrian companies now represented in Slovakia

Vienna, 15 May 2013 – “Further expansion of the business relations between Austria and Slovakia is an important boost for growth in a time of crisis”, State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said on the occasion of the visit of Peter Javorcik, State Secretary of Slovakia to Vienna on 14 May. “Slovakia and Austria are both export oriented economies, and we are also important cross-border trading partners with our mutual trade balance amounting to some 5.8 billion euros in 2012. Austria is the second largest direct investor in Slovakia, and some 2,000 Austrian companies now have business representations in our neighbour state. There can be no doubt about the importance of promoting these relations, especially now, in times of a global economic crisis. Slovakia, which is still enjoying good growth rates, is an important partner of Austria. This is the reason why we have agreed to set up a Business Forum and to do so without delay in the course of this year”, the State Secretary said.

The EU Strategy for the Danube Region is another area where Austria sees great potential for business growth. “The Strategy for the Danube Region has the potential to give our region new impetus: The connection to new growth regions and cross-border projects offer new opportunities for us all. The various platforms initiated by Austria, such as the Danube Region Business Forum, which is an important networking platform for more than 300 SMEs, and the Danube Financing Dialogue that links up donors and project managers, are important tools for further expansion of business relations. We are convinced that closer involvement of the private sector will offer new options of promoting projects and investments within the framework of the Strategy”, Lopatka said.

The most important item on the agenda of the meeting besides bilateral economic relations, cooperation in energy matters and transport infrastructure, was the EU perspective for the Western Balkans. “Slovakia and Austria are very much in favour of further EU integration of the countries of the Western Balkans. Major success has already been achieved in this matter, such as the start of negotiations with Montenegro”. Serbia and Kosovo have also moved closer to the EU thanks to the historic agreement on the normalization of their relations and with regard to the issue of Northern Kosovo. “What we must see now are concrete results and the putting of the agreement into practice so that we can decide on the next steps regarding Serbia and Kosovo in June. If progress is made, Austria will openly support the initiation of accession negotiations with Serbia and the start of negotiations about a stabilization and association agreement with Kosovo”, the State Secretary concluded. The visit of the Slovakian State Secretary in Vienna was the second meeting of the two State Secretaries in 2013.

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