Vienna/Bratislava, 1 February 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "Greater coordination for EU issues"

20 years of diplomatic relations between Austria and Slovakia

Vienna/Bratislava, 31 January 2013 – "In the 20 years since the emergence of an independent Slovakia a true friendship and partnership has developed between our two countries. We have many common interests as neighbours. My working visit today to Secretary of State Peter Javorsík has once again confirmed this. It is our wish that this relationship will become an even closer one in future", Austrian Secretary of State Lopatka said in Bratislava today.

Lopatka stressed the strong economic integration between the two countries: "Austria is the second largest investor in Slovakia. Around 2,000 Austrian companies have branches or affiliated firms here. These companies employ 40,000 people. On the other side of the border 43,000 people from Slovakia are employed in Austria, above all in the social and care professions." The two State Secretaries also discussed measures that can be taken against youth unemployment, which has hit Slovakia especially hard. Austria has offered support and expertise to Slovakia in the area of dual apprentice training and this has been taken up very positively.

Lopatka welcomed the close cooperation between the two countries in the European Union: "As Euro zone countries it is above all in fiscal policy that we are able to coordinate our joint interests. Support for the EU perspectives of the countries in the western Balkans is also an objective that Slovakia and Austria have pursued over many years within the EU. We would like to see an even closer coordination in EU issues for the future."

The discussion agenda also included the multi-annual financial framework 2014-2020, which the European Council intends to bring to a conclusion in February. "We have not yet achieved our objective, the results for the negotiations on 7 and 8 February are still not yet certain. For this reason it is important that we stand firm by our demands. There must be no unfavourable treatment of Austria in comparison with the other net contributor countries", the State Secretary said in the context of the Austrian demand for the retention of the rebate, which has also met with understanding from the Slovakian side.

Infrastructure development in roads and railways was also discussed with Javorsík. "We have already been able to achieve major progress here. The Vienna-Bratislava motorway link and the improvement in the railway links are concrete examples here. It is now important for us to implement further projects in the area of transport on an equally speedy and thorough basis", Lopatka said. As far as nuclear energy is concerned, Lopatka urgently stressed the legitimate safety interests of Austria.

The fact that Kosice is European Capital of Culture Kosice in 2013 will offer a special opportunity to intensify the cultural relations between the two neighbouring countries.

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