Vienna, 2 September 2003 - A few weeks after the Turkish Prime Minister's visit to Austria, the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gül, met with his counterpart the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner on the occasion of a working visit in Vienna.
Today's talks focussed on all aspects of bilateral relations, including opportunities for the expansion of Austro-Turkish trade relations. "The volume of trade between Austria and Turkey is only half of that between Austria and Croatia, whereby Croatia's population is only a tenth of that of Turkey. I am convinced that there is further potential for an economic relation, as for example concerning our successful commitment in the Turkish energy sector," stated the Foreign Minister.
Ferrero-Waldner also advocated continued support from the Turkish authorities for the Austrian St. George's College in Istanbul, as well as for the activities of Austrian archaeologists in Ephesos, which have a tradition that years back more than a century. "Both projects are shining examples of Austria's scientific and cultural presence in Turkey and make an essential contribution towards strengthening the friendly relations between our two countries," said Ferrero-Waldner.
The Foreign Minister went on to point out that the approximately 400,000 Austrian tourists who travel to Turkey each year are not only a significant economic factor, but also represent an important personal element in Austro-Turkish relations. "In this connection I would also like to highlight the important economic, social and cultural contribution of the almost 200,000 strong Turkish community to Austria," she added.
Regarding the reform programme initiated by the Turkish government, Ferrero-Waldner pointed out that "Austria recognises the considerable progress Turkey has made in this respect, and will continue to lend Turkey her full support in her further process of reform on the road towards Europe, particularly in the impending decisive phase of implementation of these reforms."
On the question of Turkey's possible accession to the EU, Ferrero-Waldner explained the road map which had been adopted at the European Council meeting in Copenhagen. This road map envisages that a progress report will be submitted to the European Commission at the end of 2004, on the basis of which a decision will then be taken regarding the initiation of EU accession negotiations with Turkey. "There is no reason to change the road map which has been adopted in Copenhagen," stated the Foreign Minister.