Vienna, 11 October 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "Georgia – a new focus country for Austrian development cooperation and a major player in the European Union's Eastern Partnership"

Boost to relations with the region expected from Vilnius Summit at end of November

Vienna, 11 October 2013 – "Georgia is a new priority country for Austria's development cooperation. I see this as a logical continuation of the geographic focus of Austria's foreign policy that we are gradually expanding from the Western Balkans, via the Danube and the Black Sea to the South Caucasus. Good governance is important to us, not least in Georgia as it reaches out to Europe and takes a key role in strengthening democratic structures", Austrian State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said after his meeting with Georgia's Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze. State Secretary Lopatka is to open the new office of the Austrian Development Agency for the South Caucasus in Tbilisi at the end of this month.

Landmark decisions are expected from the imminent summit meeting of the EU's Eastern Partnership in Vilnius, "Austria is in favour of initialling the EU Association Agreement with Georgia that provides for a widening of European standards and values. This agreement is a win-win-situation also for other countries in the region and will push ahead cooperation within the European neighbourhood as a whole. Georgia is located at the crossroads of important geo-strategic locations and serves as a bridge between Europe and Central Asia and also between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. We hope that Georgia will continue to play a pioneering role in the framework of the Eastern Partnership also in future", Lopatka said.

The Georgian Foreign Minister, who conversed fluently in German during her meeting with the Austrian State Secretary, is also the founder of the Association of Georgian Teachers of German and is a campaigner for the teaching and dissemination of the German language in Georgia. Austria is also contributing to these efforts and has operated an Austria Library in Tbilisi since the year 2000.

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