Vienna, 6 November 2008 Press release

Extending the network of Austria Libraries in the Balkans

54th Austria Library opens in Banja Luka

Vienna, 6 November 2008 - As a further step in intensifying Austria’s cultural relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, an Austria Library will be opened at Banja Luka University on 7 November. It is the 54th Austria Library abroad. The establishment of the library in Banja Luka, the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the administrative, economic and cultural centre of the Republika Srpska, will satisfy a demand for Austria-related information that is particularly prevalent in the university environment in fields such as history, literature, art, applied geography, law, business and politics. On the other hand, the library is also designed to further strengthen cultural ties between the two countries, as Austria Libraries serve as culture, information and media centres and as a first contact for those who are interested in Austria and its culture. Austrian lectureships at foreign universities often play an important role in developing and defining the programme content of Austria Libraries, which have close relations with students and academic institutions. Austrian lectureships have been established in many cities which also have Austria Libraries. In addition to Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina has further Austria Libraries in Sarajevo and Tuzla.

The Head of the Cultural Policy Section at the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, Ambassador Emil Brix, emphasises the cultural and political importance of opening the library in Banja Luka: "We want to make a contribution to facilitating more European contacts in this Serb-speaking territory in order to dismantle mental barriers. Here, the objectives of 'CULTURE MATTERS - Austrian Cultural Relations' will once more come to the fore, a priority programme of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs that is designed to intensify cultural cooperation with the Balkan states. Cultural and academic cooperation in particular are of essential importance to the European integration of the Balkan states. Through our Austria Libraries we offer cultural and academic dialogue, using a tried and tested, established cross-border network which attracts a diverse audience, especially in those cities where Austria is represented by neither an embassy nor another official facility. In those cities in particular, Austria Libraries play a special role in establishing contacts with academics and artists."

The library will be opened by Ambassador Emil Brix.

Austrian Libraries

Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Andreas Pawlitschek
Cultural Public Relations Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3564
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-3564