Vienna, 21 June 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: "Dialogue between cultures is a common challenge for Europe and Asia"

Foreign Minister meets Deputy Foreign Minister of Singapore

Vienna, 21 June 2010 - "Regardless of its great geographical distance, Singapore, with its multicultural population, is a significant partner in the intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and an important bridge for Austria in the South-East Asia Region. The dialogue between cultures and the handling of ethnic, religious and social diversity belong to the common challenges of Europe and Asia. I am convinced that both countries will learn and benefit from this exchange of experiences“, said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger after his meeting with Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Zainul Abidin Rasheed, who is currently on an official visit to Vienna together with experts on inter-religious dialogue from Singapore.

The four-day dialogue programme includes meetings in the National Council, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, as well as a visit and discussions in the Austrian Integration Fund, in the Islamic Religious Community in Austria, the Centre for Christian-Islamic Encounter of the Archdiocese of Vienna and other civil society institutions such as Caritas or ZARA. Zainul Abidin Rasheed will deliver a speech in the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna on 22 June, at 6 pm on the topic of "Managing social, cultural and religious pluralism and diversity - the Singapore experience".

Another topic of discussion was the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries: "Singapore is our most important export market in South-East Asia. Some 60 Austrian companies operate branch offices in the city state, which is also an important hub for South-East Asia and beyond", said Spindelegger. Mutual exchange is also taking place in the area of technology and research. Similarly, several links exist between Austria and Singapore in the field of culture: cooperation between museums, and guest performances of the Vienna State Opera or the Vienna Boys’ Choir. "The economic, cultural, and scientific potential of our relations is far from being exhausted", the Foreign Minister concluded.

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