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Austrian President Pays Official Visit to Slovakia
June 5, 2012
Austrian President Pays Official Visit to Slovakia 5. 6. During bilateral talks Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič praised the excellent quality of bilateral relations, also proven by a higher frequency of meetings of the two presidents than usual under the protocol.
Speaking positively of the Slovak-Austrian relations, the Slovak President said: “We appreciate that Austria is Slovakia’s largest trade partner, with our bilateral turnover having exceeded 5 billion euro last year, up by one billion euro compared to the pre-crisis period.” Over 2,000 Austrian companies operate in Slovakia, with their share in investments accounting for 15%. “According to official statistics, approximately 17,000 Slovaks work in Austria; we are very happy that those catastrophic scenarios that were presented at the time of our accession to the Schengen area and the lifting of restrictions on the free movement of labour proved to be wrong,” President Gašparovič said.
The presidents also discussed good neighbourly relations, investment and business conditions in both countries, nuclear safety issues and the problems in the Western Balkans, as well as those concerning the current crisis in the eurozone and its future. The excellent standard of relations between Austria and Slovakia was also proved by the recent visit of the students of the Slavonic studies department of the University of Vienna with President Ivan Gašparovič. “I am very glad that the University of Vienna further promotes studies at this department,” he added. The only issue on which the two presidents did not agree completely are the differing attitudes of their countries on the nuclear energy sector. Slovakia is an advocate of the use of nuclear energy, but both presidents agreed that “safety comes first and we want to continue investing in the safety”, according to the Slovak President.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer thanked for the friendly and cordial welcome, responsiveness and hospitality with which was treated in Slovakia. He confirmed that Slovakia was an outstanding economic partner to Austria. “Both our countries are members of the eurozone and the positive figures in our economic cooperation have left a positive impression on me,” the Austrian President pointed out. He further added he was glad that Slovakia would be the fastest growing economy in the European Union in 2012.
According to President Fischer, it is time to boost professional education and training, because qualified workforce is prerequisite to successful and thriving business. With respect to the problems which the eurozone currently faces, the two presidents said they believed and wished that Greece would preserve its membership, under the condition that it would observe the memorandum of understanding agreed with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The programme of Heinz Fischer’s official visit to Slovakia also included a joint presentation with Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič at the Slovak-Austrian economic forum.