Austria and Italy to further strengthen their joint commitment to the Western Balkans and in the context of the OSCE Chairmanship

Secretary-General at the Foreign Ministry Michael Linhart meets Italian Secretary General Elisabetta Belloni in Rome

At a meeting with Elisabetta Belloni, Secretary General at the Italian Foreign Ministry, Secretary-General Michael Linhart highlighted the excellent relations between Austria and Italy, stating that “Italy is an important partner in managing many of the current challenges, such as the fight against illegal migration, terrorism and the prevention of radicalisation. Italy is also our second most important international economic partner.”

South Tyrol, which always ranks high on Austria’s agenda, was also among the topics discussed – especially with a view to the current reform of the Italian constitution and to the preservation and dynamic further development of the region’s autonomy. Another topic addressed in the meeting was an important concern shared by both countries, namely the Western Balkans. “We agree that supporting the Western Balkan states’ EU accession perspective is an absolute must”, Secretary-General Michael Linhart emphasised in this connection. Within the Central European Initiative (CEI), both Austria and Italy also play leading roles. Further topics addressed in the talks included the planning and preparations for Austria’s Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2017, a function in which it will be succeeded by Italy in 2018. “Austria will focus in particular on the prevention of radicalisation and extremism. Likewise, it seeks to make a pro-active contribution to putting an end to the crisis of confidence in the OSCE area as well as to resolving frozen conflicts”, Secretary-General Linhart stated, explaining the cornerstones of Austria’s Chairmanship programme.

On the invitation of the Italian State Secretary Sandro Gozi, Linhart also took part in a meeting of the “Friends of the Rule of Law” on 3 October. Austria has a long-standing tradition of commitment to the respect of fundamental rights at international level. Together with its European partners, it therefore also actively supports strengthening the rule of law within the context of the EU.




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