Austria is soon to open an embassy in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP, Austrian People’s Party) informed journalists on Friday following a working meeting with his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Janelidze.
Austria is currently represented in the Southern Caucasus Republic of Georgia by an ambassador based in Vienna. The establishment of the new embassy is part of the Foreign Ministry’s restructuring plan, presented about one year ago. In line with this plan, Austria will open new embassies in two further former Soviet Republics, namely Moldova and Belarus.
The opening of the embassy in Tbilisi is scheduled for the beginning of August. The new embassy will be headed by Arad Benkö who is currently representing Austria at the embassy in Latvia, which is due to be closed in the context of the changes provided for under the plan.
Referring to Austria’s Chairmanship of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) next year, Kurz announced that neighbourhood conflicts are to be made one of the priority topics. Georgia is among the countries affected by such conflicts: the two regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia have broken away, which is supported by Russia. Following a five-day war between Georgia and Russia in 2008, Moscow recognised the two regions as independent states and deployed troops on the ground.
Kurz stressed that in his forthcoming capacity as OSCE Chairman he intends not only to keep such frozen conflicts "on the radar" but to make a very concrete contribution towards rapprochement or even conflict resolution. Janelidze, whose government seeks the country’s membership of both the EU and NATO, while at the same time striving to maintain good relations with Russia, stressed that the only approach towards resolving the South Ossetia and Abkhazia issue was by peaceful means.
In the context of Foreign Minister Janelidze’s visit to Vienna, a business forum was held on Friday at which some 50 Austrian and Georgian companies were able to establish and deepen contacts. Another topic on the Foreign Minister’s agenda was a celebration marking the 25th anniversary of Georgia’s independence from Russia.
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