Graz, 26 November 2009 Press release

Spindelegger: “Starting the dialogue on Europe at all levels”

Continuing the EU dialogue tour with discussions in Salzburg and Graz

Graz, 26 November 2009 - "My manifold experiences during my EU listening tour had one common denominator: glossy brochures and advertising campaigns alone are not enough. Austrians want a direct dialogue on European questions. I am now fulfilling this mandate. I have come to talk about Europe. We often talk at cross purposes, so we need personal dialogue," stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger as he continued his EU dialogue tour in Salzburg and Graz. Together with the future director of the Salzburg Festival, Alexander Pereira, and the entrepreneur and former motocross rider Heinz Kinigadner, the Foreign Minister yesterday evening participated in a public discussion at Salzburg’s Hangar 7. This will be followed today by a discussion at the Grazer Kunsthaus, together with Kosovo’s Minister of Education Enver Hoxhaj, the director of Grazer Schauspielhaus Anna Badora, and Hans Roth, General Manager of Saubermacher AG and Austrian of the Year 2009 in the business category.

"Europe must be based on team work - from the local community to the federal government. We must succeed in creating dialogue at all levels. I hope to trigger a domino effect with this tour, which will hopefully lead to a stronger commitment by ministers, provinces, towns and local communities to the dialogue on Europe. Practical and honest dialogue is the most effective means of combating scepticism towards the EU," Spindelegger continued.

Commenting on Austria’s future role within the EU, the Foreign Minister stated: "The Treaty of Lisbon’s entry into force will mark the end of a ten-year debate about the rules of the game for Europe. Austria must now seize this opportunity and position itself as a strong player on the new playing field. The decisive success factors here are alliances and partnerships. In the past we have established close networks that have proved useful, particularly in our immediate neighbourhood. This was also the secret behind the success of the Austro-Romanian initiative for an EU strategy for the Danube Region," affirmed the Foreign Minister.

"In a globalised world we must find common European answers to global challenges such as climate change and economic crisis. Small and medium-sized states like Austria are called upon to play their part in this effort - as workshops for ideas and innovation," continued Spindelegger. "We need the European Union if we want to secure and further develop our unique European life model, which combines sustainability and social cohesion with a strong competitive economy," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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