Vienna/Prague, 31 May 2013 – "The signing of the agreement on joint activities under the Schengen Convention between Austria and the Czech Republic is a clear indicator of the close relationship and the mutual trust enjoyed by our two countries. Increasing global travel by the citizens of our countries is a challenge for us to find creative cooperative solutions in our consular activities. The mutual representation for issuing visas by Schengen partners has established itself as a highly successful model here. It is a logical and sensible step for neighbours to support each other in these issues", Austrian State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said on the signing of an agreement on Schengen representation with Czech State Secretary Jiri Schneider.
Initially, the Austrian Embassy in Dakar will handle visa applications for the Czech Republic and the Czech Republic will provide consular support for Austria in Baghdad.
"This mutual support in consular activities in my view is yet another mosaic stone in the multi-faceted and close economic and cultural ties we have with the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is Austria's most important trading partner in Central Europe with an annual trade volume that has now reached around 10 billion euros, while it also continues to be the number one country chosen for investment by Austrian companies. From the perspective of the Czech Republic Austria is the third largest foreign investor behind Germany and the Netherlands", Lopatka said and added: "These close economic ties must be reflected in an ever more closely linked transport network. With this objective in view Austria is to give full priority to road and rail projects in the direction of the Czech Republic."
The cultural sphere is also seeing some important new developments. "Work is to be taken in hand on the writing of a joint Austrian-Czech history with the aim of overcoming outdated mind sets and prejudice in respect to our common historical background and this has been launched in the scope of the regular bilateral historians conference that was established in 2009. The systematic and factual reappraisal of the subject is an important contribution to dealing with critical questions about the past, freeing us from myths and stereotypes and opening the way to a future-oriented partnership", State Secretary Lopatka concluded.
In addition to the meeting with Jiri Schneider, with whom a wide range of issues of interest to Austria were discussed, including further development of the Temelin nuclear power station, Lopatka also had talks with Vojtech Belling, the State Secretary for EU matters in the Prime Minister's office. Issues discussed with both Czech Republic State Secretaries included developments in the EU, the further development of the economic and monetary union and EU accession of the Western Balkan states.
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