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Wednesday, 21 November 2001

Official visit to the Republic of Austria - the second day

On November 21st 2001 during the second day of the official visit to Austria the President of the Republic of Poland Mr. Aleksander Kwaśniewski and the President of Republic of Austria opened an economic forum in Vienna. Polish businessmen accompanying the President discussed at the Federal Chamber of Commerce possible ways of invigorating and boosting economic cooperation. According to President Aleksander Kwaśniewski "Polish-Austrian economic relations could be said to grade B or even B plus. The trade exchange - said the President - possibly deserves a lesser grade though it can hardly be said to be insignificant amounting to 1.5 billion USD. The area of investment seems to be prospering well, especially in such sectors as banking and insurance. Numerous substantial projects were submitted by Austrian manufacturing enterprises with offers of investment in Poland. I am accompanied here, on my visit to Austria, by the Polish Minister of Economy, so this might be an opportune moment to review the projects and to take advantage of the Austrians` willingness to invest in our country. Every foreign investment, as it happens, is important for us since it not only translates into increased revenues but above all into new employment opportunities". At midday, the President of the Republic of Poland Mr. Aleksander Kwaśniewski met Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Ferrero-Waldner and the Chairman of National Chamber Mr. H. Fisher. After the meetings, in response to a question put by Polish journalists as to whether the relatively feeble Austrian support for our EU accession endeavor constituted a danger, the President said "we still have the time to bring the Austrians to our view, it is certainly still feasible, in part thanks to the organization of the Polish Year in Austria 2001. It is a mission and we cannot just look on disillusioned and with the conviction that if this is the Austrian attitude, there is very little we can do. We can and we can do a lot! We have arguments that that hold good with Austrians. The position adopted by the major political forces in Austria is very important since ultimately they impact the public opinion the most. I am confident that we can count on the understanding, the involvement and the support of both the President and the Chancellor as well as of major-league political leaders. We ought to remember, however, that Austria is also a country of Mr. Heider and of his party that is by and large anti-European. This is a question mark. But we also have our lot of Euro-skeptics or even Euro-foes and we have to argue our case with them in a way that will turn the public opinion in favour of our accession to the EU. I have no worries about Austria. In the afternoon, the President of the Republic of Poland had talks with the Mayor of Vienna Mr. M. Haupl. Next, the President and his Spouse are scheduled to meet Polish expatriate community at the Embassy where, among other presents, a home-movie projection set is to be donated to the very vibrant Polish community organization from Linz. In the evening, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski delivered a lecture on "The Benefits of the European Union Enlargement" at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue.
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