Budapest, 13 July 2004 - Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner accompanied Austria’s new Federal President Heinz Fischer on his first official visit to Hungary today. The two Austrians met with Hungarian President Ferenc Madl, Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, President of Parliament Katalin Szili as well as Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs.
Ferrero-Waldner praised the close cooperation between Austria and Hungary, which had become most evident during the conclusive phase of negotiations concerning the European Constitution: "It is with great pleasure that I call Hungary an extremely valuable partner of Austria, especially during the Intergovernmental Conference when we shared views in almost all matters and where we jointly presented our positions within the so-called "group of like-minded countries". It is most important to me to continue this vital informal cooperation."
The Foreign Minister also highlighted the successful cooperation within the Regional Partnership, which she had initiated in 2001 together with the neighbouring EU candidate countries and Austria’s "cultural neighbour" Poland. "The Regional Partnership is one of these networks that may in their entirety enhance the stability of the relations among the EU Member States. I am pleased that the Regional Partnership is developing more and more into a platform for an informal exchange of views on EU-relevant issues."
Moreover, Ferrero-Waldner drew attention to the close bilateral economic relations: "With a share of 7% in the Hungarian market, Austria is Hungary’s second most important trade partner after Germany. Austrian investments total almost 3 billion euro, this means that more than 12% of our direct foreign investments go to Hungary." In this context the Foreign Minister stressed the necessity for further coordinated development of the rail and road transport infrastructure within the border region.
According to Ferrero-Waldner, the two successful large-scale exhibitions "Time of Awakening. Vienna and Budapest between historicism and avant-garde" and "Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka - and the art of dualism", mounted in Budapest this year, clearly reflect the intensive cultural relations between the two countries.