Sunday , June 16 2024

Greece and Austria confirm close and sincere friendship


Federal President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen officially welcomes visiting President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou to Vienna.


The President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou made a State Visit to the Republic of Austria on December 4th-6th, following the invitation of President Alexander Van der Bellen. The two Heads of State confirmed the close ties of Greece and Austria and the countries’ common values and stances.

After the welcoming ceremony, they had a private meeting at the Presidential Palace, followed by extended talks by the two delegations.


During the joint press conference, President Sakellaropoulou stated that, “the close and sincere friendship that connects the two peoples is a solid basis for the further development of our cooperation on a political, economic and cultural level. On the other hand, Greece and Austria cooperate harmoniously within the framework of the European Union, the United Nations and other international organisations, committed to common values and principles and respecting International Law.”

The talks focused on regional developments that negatively affect the two countries, the EU, but also the entire international community, with an emphasis on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the recent flare-up in the Middle East.

The Austrian President praised Greece’s economic development and its strategic location in the energy sector and in view of the differences in the government on the climate plan; Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has called for speed in climate protection. “Anyone who still thinks they have a lot of time is making a historic mistake,” he said. Both Greece and Austria have experienced the effects of the ‘climate emergency’, for example in the form of floods or forest fires.

President Van der Bellen continued that he could not judge the misunderstanding surrounding the National Energy and Climate Plan. But he wanted to remind all parties that the “climate crisis is not a joke problem, but a problem for the survival of humanity.” President Sakellaropoulou also emphasised that, given the “climate emergency,” “collective efforts” are needed to reverse negative developments and protect citizens from extreme weather conditions.


The Greek Head of State with President of the National Council of Austria Wolfgang Sobotka.


When asked about recent reports from the COP28 climate conference in Dubai that the exit from fossil fuels could not be mentioned in the final document, the Federal President was calm. “That alone wouldn’t upset me,” he said, pointing out that the phase-out of oil and gas would take decades. However, he wanted to remind the participants from around 200 countries, representatives of oil companies and political parties in Austria “that the climate emergency did not fall from the sky”. It is the “biggest market failure of all time”. Since the market has been demanding prices “that do not correspond to real prices” for decades. “States are required to take appropriate measures,” he added. The Austrian Head of State had to cancel his trip to the opening of COP28 due to illness. Regarding his non-participation, he said: “Whether that was a misfortune or a blessing” remains to be seen.

President Van der Bellen also addressed the development of political and economic relations with Greece. The 30 billion euros from the EU Recovery Fund are an opportunity for Austrian companies active in infrastructure and green technology. The Federal President still sees “a lot of scope for cooperation” here. He also expressed “explicit appreciation” to Greece for managing to “stabilise” its economy after the financial crisis. The growth rates of around 2% are well above the average, including in Austria. At the same time, Greece has shown “a pace that is unparalleled” in reducing its national debt.

Greece and Austria are both “friends of the Western Balkans” and are in favour of rapid integration of the southeastern European States. President Sakellaropoulou said that Greece is promoting the EU perspective of the Western Balkans and it is of “strategic and economic interest”. At the same time, it would provide an incentive for necessary reforms, especially in the areas of the rule of law and human rights.

When asked about the refugee situation in Greece, President Sakellaropoulou described the situation on the islands as still difficult due to new escape routes and migration movements from Turkey or Africa. The Greek Government has done a lot to overcome the challenges and the country is still trying its best, but a new EU refugee agreement with Turkey is needed, she said. She also noted that the presence of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex is essential for Greece.


President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, accompanied by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Kotsiras, visits with Most Reverend Metropolitan of Austria, His Eminence and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe, Arsenios.


The President of the Republic was accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Kotsiras, who also participated in the meeting of the President of the Republic with the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Austria, His Eminence and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe, Arsenios. The meeting took place in the Holy Metropolis of Austria in the premises of which the Greek National School of Vienna, the oldest active school of the Diaspora, has been continuously operating since 1804. With its multi-level social and philanthropic work, the Holy Metropolis of Austria plays a decisive role in the historical continuity of Hellenism and the strengthening of the relations of the Greek Diaspora with the homeland.

Finally, the Embassy organised an event at the Ambassadorial Residence in Vienna in honour of the visiting President of the Hellenic Republic. It encompassed the presence of Greek expatriates and presented the opportunity to meet Greek men and women of the Diaspora who, through their work, shape the modern face of Greece and highlight the Greek element in Austria.


(Photographs by Th.Manolopoulos/Office to the President of the Hellenic Republic.)

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