Coindicently, Korea inked its diplomatic ties with Austria & EU in 1963, allowing its 55th diplomatic relations anniversary to commemorate it with the two counterparts respectively this year.
Moreover, Austria is carrying out its EU Presidency role during the latter half of the year 2018. In that regard, this year's Austria National Day reception implied many significances than ever, according to the speech of Austria Amb. Michael Schwarzinger through its diplomatic reception held in a downtown hotel Seoul on last Thursday evening, Oct. 25th.
The most recent diplomatic event between Korea & EU was the 2018 ASEM Meeting where the 9th EU-Republic of Korea Summit took place on 19 October in Brussels as well as it marked the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the EU and the Republic of Korea and set the stage for a further strengthening of bilateral ties.
Schwarzinger mentioned first off: "The EU and Korea are united by common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The Leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to multilateralism and the international rules-based order, politically and economically, while also supporting global action on climate change and the environment."
Touching upon Korea's Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon's official visit to Austria this spring, Schwarzinger assessed Prime Minister Lee's meeting with Austria Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz as well as President Alexander Van der Bellen was a good opportunity to confirm traditional friendly cooperation between the two countries which have greeted 126 years since their diplomatic ties.
Prime Minister Kurz expressed his Government's willingness to support further regarding Korean peninsula problem-related policies, echoing same opinion with Prime Minister Lee's comments that historical opportunity must be revived continuously for the denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean peninsula initiated from the April 27 Panmoonjeom Declaration, according to Schwarzinger.
For the Oct. issue of the Seoulcity magazine, Austria Amb. Michael Schwarzinger contributed his article as belows for reference for our readers. -Ed.
This year in May, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon visited on a trip to Europa also Austria. He discussed with President Alexander van der Bellen and with Prime Minister (Federal Chancellor) Sebastian Kurz about ways to enhance bilateral relations and economic cooperation. The talks focused on ways to promote reciprocal cooperation for the creation of future growth momentum focusing on science and technology, research and development and small and medium enterprises. As Austria holds the presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2018, the two prime ministers also spoke about ways to deepen cooperation between Korea and the European Union (EU).
Both, Korea and Austria, have a great history of being trading nations. Austria has been a gateway from the East to Europe since the 18th century. Throughout history, the Vienna basin is at the intersection of many trade routes. Today, Vienna continues to play an important role in regional commerce in Europe.
Regarding trade, both Korea and Austria get along remarkably well. In 2016, the combined bilateral trade volume amounted to € 1603 Million, in 2017 to € 2135 Million. For 2018 we expect another rise by 24%. Both countries owe their successes to the exceptional quality and competitivity of their products. Austrian companies invested € 1106 Million (up from € 177 Million in 2014) and employ today almost 3000 persons in Korea. Over 300.000 Korean tourists per year visit Austria.
The Austrian National Day is linked to the Constitutional Law on Austria’s neutrality. On October 26, Austrians celebrate the moment when their country regained its independence in 1955 after 10 years of occupation. Austria emerged from World War II to become a stable democracy and a center of European culture.
We respect your historic commitment to neutrality. At the same time, Austria highly values the importance of good neighborhood. Last year, Austria successfully chaired the OSCE and hosted a ministerial meeting in Vienna with forty Ministers of Foreign Affairs. This year, Austria chairs the Council of the EU (from July to December). One of the highlights of this period will be the ASEAN Summit and the EU-Korea-Summit in October in Brussels.
The cooperation between Korea and the EU is very good. The European Union is the largest trading power in the world and the leading provider of development and humanitarian aid. Europe’s diplomacy carries weight and wants to contribute to making this world a safer and more sustainable place. This is illustrated, for example, by the historic agreement with Iran on its nuclear programme. Or by the leading role assumed by the EU in the negotiations on the Paris Climate Agreement. Diplomacy and dialogue often are very successful. This inspires me with confidence that the international community can succeed in resolving the challenges ahead of us together. I am convinced that our future lies in cooperation, not confrontation. Ultimately, we are all interdependent and need to work together, as we are one world, one global community.