Talks will focus on investment and trade, the conflict in eastern Ukraine and preparations for Austria’s forthcoming OSCE Chairmanship; another import item on the visit’s agenda is the official opening of the Honorary Consulate in Kharkiv
Secretary-General Michael Linhart will travel to Kiev and Kharkiv on 26 and 27 May. The visit’s agenda includes official meetings with the 1st Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vadym Prystaiko, Ukrainian chief negotiator on the Donbas conflict, the former President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma (1996-2004) and the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine Ambassador Martin Sajdik. Together with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Klimkin, Linhart will open the new Austrian Honorary Consulate in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. Linhart will also take the opportunity to congratulate Foreign Minister Klimkin on the release of Nadiya Savchenko.
The association agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2016, is another important topic to be dealt with during the talks. “The quicker Ukraine succeeds in implementing reforms and in building up a sound reputation as a good destination for foreign investments, the more attractive will it become as a location for such investments”, Linhart pointed out.
Secretary-General Michael Linhart’s visit to Ukraine forms part of the preparations for the Austrian Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2017, as the conflict in eastern Ukraine will in all probability range among the priorities to be addressed under Austria’s Chair. By seconding Martin Sajdik, currently Special Representative of the German OSCE Chair, Austria is already making an important contribution to the efforts aimed at resolving the conflict. The Secretary-General at the Foreign Ministry praised the recent successes achieved in this respect: “A marked reduction in fighting and thus in the numbers of civilian and military casualties, the rehabilitation of infrastructure, such as the water supply for Luhansk and a mine clearance programme count among such key successes realised by the OSCE this year.”
By re-opening the Honorary Consulate in Kharkiv, Austria has taken an important step towards highlighting the significance of a region that has been particularly impacted by the trade conflict between Russia and Ukraine and which has also taken in hundreds of thousands of displaced persons from Donetsk and Luhansk. With this re-opening, Austria has also responded to a request by the regional authorities. The new Honorary Consul Vsevolod Kozhemyako, who will head this consulate on a pro bono basis, is a leading local entrepreneur, active in the agricultural sector.
Over the last few years, some 2.3 million people have fled from Donetsk and Luhansk. So far, Austria has already provided 1.8 million euros in humanitarian assistance for the victims of the conflict with further support of 6 million euros per year provided in the context of official development assistance.
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