Hartberg/Vienna, 18 September 2012 Press release

The “Red-White-Red” Principle in Austrian Foreign and Integration Policy

Hartberg/Vienna, 18 September 2012 – “The 1.6 million people in Austria who have a migration background form a bridge between Austria and their countries of origin, and this also influences our foreign policy”, State Secretary Lopatka said yesterday at the Hartbergerland-Forum where interested citizens discussed the topic of “Integration Through Performance” with State Secretaries Sebastian Kurz and Reinhold Lopatka.

Integration and foreign policy are inseparably linked. Internationally, Austria has made a name for itself as an attractive economic location offering a high quality of life. People from all over the world come to Austria to work here or to settle permanently. “Politicians must state very clearly what we are able to offer to these people and where our capacities are limited”, State Secretary Lopatka said. “Businesses have been complaining for years about a lack of skilled workers. For this reason, I believe that in the Red-White-Red Card (our flexible immigration scheme that extends also to countries outside Europe) we have created an effective tool for getting qualified skilled workers to Austria in those areas where we are facing a shortfall”, the State Secretary concluded.

The link between foreign and integration policy is also apparent in the relevant figures: Today, some 450,000 people from the countries of former Yugoslavia live in Austria. “This has been a major factor in Austria’s role as an undisputed expert on the situation on the Western Balkans and its active involvement in the countries of former Yugoslavia. The Western Balkans are among the regions that are central to our foreign policy”, State Secretary Lopatka added.

In fact, Southeast Europe has become one of the most important export markets for the Austrian economy. To ensure peace, security, prosperity and stability, it remains an essential goal of Austrian foreign policy to integrate the entire Western Balkans within the EU.

Integration also means respect for other cultures and religions. Foreign Minister Spindelegger has thus made it one of his priorities to extend Austria’s position as a hub of dialogue and peace.

“Since he has taken up office, Sebastian Kurz has succeeded in putting a name and a face to the topic of integration in Austria. The activities of the State Secretariat for Integration in the field of interreligious dialogue within Austria are important additions to our international commitment”, Lopatka concluded. 

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