The Slovenia Times

Slovenian, Austrian FMs Say Ties Very Good


The relations between the countries are "friendly and open, despite the incident that happened," said Erjavec. "The local politician Dobernig used very inappropriate vocabulary."

"I am very pleased that the foreign minister and the Austrian government distanced themselves from the statements of this local politician which do not belong into modern time and the level at which Austrian-Slovenian relations are today," Erjavec told the press.

Spindelegger reiterated that relations between the countries were very good and could not be jeopardised by a provincial politician.

Dobernig, a member of the Carinthian Freedom Party (FPK), raised a lot of dust on Saturday by saying that the members of the Slovenian minority were not true Carinthians and called against the use of Slovenian language in the province.

Representatives of both countries were quick to condemn the statements. Moreover, the Austrian government as well as Carinthian Governor and FPK head Gerhard Dörfler apologised for the statements.

Dörfler however expressed criticism towards statements made by Slovenian ambassador to Vienna Aleksander Geržina, asking him to apologise over a comment that likened Dobernig's statements to a "mass movement that was successful in the 1930s".

Erjavec responded by saying he did not find Geržina's statement controversial. "It was nothing unusual...In such cases, the ambassador must react."

When asked whether Dobernig's statements and the reactions were linked to upcoming provincial election in Carinthia, Spindelegger said that such statements - whatever the reasons for them - were unacceptable and do not reflect what the Austrian federal government wants to convey.

He added that everybody in Austria was welcome without regard to their background. This also goes for people with Slovenian background in Carinthia.

Today's visit by Spindelegger marks the 20-anniversary of diplomatic relations between Slovenia and Austria. It is taking place a day before the 92nd anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite that laid down the current border between Austria and the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Meanwhile, Spindelegger also inquired today whether Slovenia will need international aid, as speculated. Erjavec underlined that if the National Assembly passes the government-proposed measures, Slovenia will be able to take care of its problems on its own.

Despite the crisis, Austria is going strong because the country has passed a five-year austerity programme in time, according to Spindelegger.

The ministers also talked about economic cooperation. Erjavec labelled it as very good, but added that there was still room for improvement.

They moreover touched on regional cooperation and the situation in the Western Balkans. Erjavec said Spindelegger was interested in open issues between Slovenia and Croatia and he explained to him how Slovenia wants to handle the issue of the defunct LB bank.

The ministers met in Maribor, the European Capital of Culture, to visit the Austrian Cultural Embassy there.


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