Vienna, 7 October 2005 - On the second day of her visit to the Russian Federation, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met with President Putin’s Deputy Presidential Envoy for the North-West Federal District, Yevgeny Makarov, and the first Vice-Governor of Saint Petersburg, Viktor Lobko, as well as Vice-Governor Alexander Prokhorenko. Their talks focused on economic and cultural cooperation.
The Russian side welcomed the increase in Austrian investments in recent years; at present, a business centre is being built in Saint Petersburg by an Austrian group. Referring to the considerable further potential, Plassnik said: "I would like to mention just a few areas of Austrian know-how which could be used in the interest of Saint Petersburg: environment, water treatment, transport, security technology." According to the parties participating in the meetings, there was great interest in close cooperation.
Together with her Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov, Plassnik unveiled the Flying Mercury in Pavlovsk Park. The statue had ended up in Austria during the upheavals of the war and was returned in May. "In this commemorative year, which is so important to our countries, this Austrian gesture is also designed to show our awareness of the heroic contribution made by the peoples of the former Soviet Union to the liberation of Austria", said Plassnik. "Saint Petersburg in particular had to bear great sacrifices", continued Plassnik.
The return of the statue after 60 years was also a sign of mutual respect and solidarity for the future between Austria and Russia. Now it was imperative to further develop the relations between the EU and Russia in a committed manner.
Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik also expressed her thanks to the Provincial Governor of Styria, Waltraud Klasnic, whose personal commitment had made the restitution possible: "This Flying Mercury will also forge a lasting link between the partner cities of Graz and Saint Petersburg", she continued.
On the occasion of her visit to the Russian Federation, Plassnik awarded Vice-Governor Alexander Prokhorenko the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star for services to the Republic of Austria. Prokhorenko has long been involved in promoting economic and cultural cooperation between Russia and Austria.
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