Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl’s first visit since assuming office took the form of a train ride from Vienna to Bratislava on 9 January, where she met with Slovakian counterparts for bilateral talks. Some 20 Austrian media representatives accompanied the Foreign Minister on her first official trip abroad.
The Foreign Minister was received at Bratislava train station by Ivan Korčok, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. Korčok is currently acting head of the ministry, as the incumbent Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Miroslav Lajčák, has been President of the UN General Assembly since September 2017. Prior to the trip, Kneissl emphasised the positive diplomatic and economic ties enjoyed by Austria and Slovakia. Newly inaugurated Foreign Ministers have traditionally visited one of Austria’s neighbouring countries – following Bern, Zagreb and Prague, Bratislava was now the chosen destination:
We have a particularly close relationship to Bratislava. Vienna and Bratislava are the closest capital cities in the world. Much connects us. I therefore look forward to meeting both of my Counterparts,
said Karin Kneissl. After a brief visit to the Austrian Embassy in Bratislava, the Foreign Minister arrived for bilateral talks at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. These talks focused in particular on bilateral issues, such as the positive economic ties between Slovakia and Austria, as well as EU topics and the 2018 Austrian EU Presidency.
The afternoon saw Kneissl hold talks with the incumbent President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, on cooperation within the UN and other global issues. The significance of Vienna as the location of the headquarters of the UN and international organisations was also honoured. “It is very important for me to further consolidate Vienna’s position as location of the headquarters of international organisations and, especially, the UN”, said Karin Kneissl.