Relations with Austria Excellent


"It is very important for me that I can greet my new colleague from Slovenia," Spindelegger told the press, adding that he discussed with Erjavec "both the status of the Slovenian minority in Austria and the German-speaking community in Slovenia".

The Slovenian FM added that the main topics of the meeting were ways to continue with the good and friendly relations with Austria. "These relations are at a very high level," Erjavec said.

He noted that the talks touched on the proposal for the new Austrian law on national minorities. "We want no right of our minority to be reduced, I'm an optimist and I believe that everything will turn out well."

There was no talk about the provisions of the Austrian State Treaty on the protection of minorities, but Erjavec said that it was completely clear that these provisions had to be kept in all relevant regulations to be adopted by Austria.

He stressed that Austria was the third biggest trade partner to Slovenia, with bilateral trade standing at EUR 4bn, and that 50% of foreign investments in Slovenia came from Austria. "It is therefore very important to maintain the good relations."

According to Erjavec, Slovenia and Austria are planning a series of joint projects. "Slovenia is planning to construct a third pier at the port of Koper, which is an important port for Austria's economy as well," he added.

The ministers also touched on bilateral cooperation within the EU and the situation in the region. According to Spindelegger, the two countries want to boost their cooperation within the bloc to "establish a strong axis in Europe".

"We agreed that we have to continue with close cooperation in the Western Balkans. We have to make a joint effort to enhance the European future of the Western Balkans. This is important for both countries," said the Austrian FM.

Erjavec added that cooperation between Austria and Slovenia was of key importance for the stability of the Western Balkans, which he labelled as a "very sensitive area".

The EU is focusing on stabilising the euro, financial troubles and economic growth and "sometimes we forget that we have many things to sort out in Southeast Europe as well".

In light of promoting the progress of SE Europe, Erjavec and Spindelegger are planning a joint visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

The pair also agreed that future cooperation between the countries would focus on boosting economic ties, while Austria will continue offering consular help to Slovenian citizens in countries where the country has no diplomatic missions.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the pair moreover voiced interest in upgrading the existing quadrilateral cooperation with Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

The ministry added that the pair would meet in Maribor in October to mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and to visit the Month of Austrian Culture, which will be held as part of the 2012 European Culture Capital.

Erjavec, paying his first visit to Austria since he took over as foreign minister in February, was also received by Austrian President Heinz Fischer. The pair agreed that the bilateral relations were excellent.