Vienna/Ljubljana, 12 April 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "More support for German-speaking minority"

Recognition of the German ethnic community, economic relations and European affairs are central topics of working visit to Slovenia

Vienna/Ljubljana, 12 April 2013 – "We must jointly leverage the positive developments following the resolution of the bilingual place name issue to ensure that progress is also made in the question of constitutional recognition of the German-speaking ethnic community in Slovenia. Our relations with Slovenia are based on mutual trust and I am thus hopeful that we will be able to make constructive progress in the recognition issue", State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said following his talks in Ljubljana with Igor Senčar, State Secretary at the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, and Parliamentary Vice-President Renata Brunskole.

In Ljubljana, State Secretary Lopatka also met representatives of the German-speaking ethnic community and learned about their activities and concerns. "We must ensure that the cultural contributions and services of the cultural associations continue to survive and that they receive greater attention. For this reason, I am advocating the idea of Slovenia also providing sufficient financial aid on the basis of the 2001 Cultural Agreement, in addition to the support provided by Austria", Lopatka continued. "It is important to also promote an awareness for our shared past. The exhibition "Nemci in Maribor/ Die Deutschen und Marburg" makes a start in coming to terms with the history of the German-speaking population of Slovenia", the State Secretary emphasised. Among the bilateral issues arising in this context is also that of restitution.

On an economic level, relations between Austria and Slovenia are particularly close. "With 5.6 billion euros and a share of 48% in direct foreign investments, Austria is by far the largest investor in Slovenia. This reflects the exceedingly high standard with regard to legal security and the good framework conditions in Slovenia. Until 2008, Austrian exports to Slovenia were higher than those to China and India put together. Despite the weak economy, exports have maintained a high level throughout 2012 and have actually increased a little by 0.3%", Lopatka said. Slovenia ranks at 13th place among Austria’s most important export markets, ahead of Japan and Turkey. In terms of per-capita import of Austrian goods, Slovenia is still holding a top position with 1150 euros.

The talks also touched on the European expansion process in the Western Balkans, a topic on which Austria and Slovenia cooperate closely. Furthermore, Ljubljana has also shown a great interest in exchanging information about activities aimed at promoting information on and awareness of European affairs. "68% of Slovenes consider themselves EU citizens. This is a good average – the Austrian percentage is 63. We cannot do enough to strengthen people’s confidence in the EU. In my meetings in Ljubljana I was able to share my experience gained on my DARUM EUROPA information tour, and Slovenia's Ambassador in Austria will join me at one of my upcoming company visits as part of the tour", the State Secretary concluded.


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