“We Have a Tremendous Relationship, Long Term, With Austria”

Austrian Chancellor Kurz Meets With U.S. President Trump

On February 20, 2019, U.S. President Donald J. Trump welcomed the Federal Chancellor of the Republic Austria Sebastian Kurz to the White House to further strengthen the excellent bilateral relations, especially in the fields of trade and international cooperation. Chancellor Kurz, at age 32 the youngest world leader, was the first Austrian chancellor to be received at the Oval Office in 13 years.

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"We have a tremendous relationship, long term, with Austria. (...) We have a very big trade presence and a very good relationship on trade," stated the U.S. President before the meeting. (Read the full remarks by both President Trump and Chancellor Kurz here).

The one-on-one meeting at the Oval Office was followed by an enlarged meeting of the Austrian delegation with the most senior members of the Trump administration ( including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, U.S. Ambassador to Austria Trevor Traina, and U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland).

The three-day trip mainly focused on bilateral aspects, and particularly on economic relations between the two nations. Austria is a small and export-oriented country within the European Union, and the United States are its second-largest trading partner.

Addressing the economic footprint of Austria in the U.S., the Chancellor mentioned that over 40,000 American jobs have been created through investments by Austrian companies. More recently, a high number of skilled manufacturing jobs were created in the states of Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. Through apprenticeships and training programs that combine college courses with employment and on-the-job training, Austrian companies in the U.S. are investing in developing the skills of American workers. This helps ensure inclusive growth and well-paying jobs in times of technological disruption.

Shortly after his arrival in Washington, DC on February 19, 2019, Chancellor Kurz had already attended the private "Madison" dinner at the State Department. On the occasion, he handed the host, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a copy of the book The Marshall Plan Since 1947 - Saving Europe, Rebuilding Austria as a gift.

Before his White House meeting, Kurz had lunch with David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, and the Austrian-American Rabbi Arthur Schneier of New York City’s Park East Synagogue, and on this occasion reaffirmed his relentless commitment to fighting any form of anti-Semitism in Austria and in Europe.

In the evening, Ambassador Wolfgang Waldner hosted a reception at his residency in honor of the Chancellor. On that occasion, members of the American Jewish community presented the Chancellor with a “Cultural Plurism Award,” while representatives of Austrian companies mingled with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

Later in the evening, the Austrian Chancellor honored an invitation by Senior Advisors to the President Ivanka and Jared Kushner to their private home, just a few hundred yards from the Austrian Residence, to discuss current geopolitical issues, the Middle East, as well as trade relations between the European Union and the U.S.

From left: Senior White House Advisors Jared and Ivanka Trump, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, U.S. Ambassador to Austria Trevor Traina  (c) Trevor Traina

From left: Senior White House Advisors Jared and Ivanka Trump, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, U.S. Ambassador to Austria Trevor Traina

(c) Trevor Traina

On the last day of his three-day trip, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz held bilateral meetings with Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, as well as with Kristalina Georgieva, the interim President of the World Bank Group. On that occasion, he also met with #AustriansAbroad working at the IMF and the World Bank.

Following his exclusive interview with The Washington Post’s former co-owner Lally Graham Weymouth, the Chancellor also visited The Washington Post for an exchange of views with members of the Editorial Board as well as with its publisher and CEO Fred Ryan.

“What was satisfying to me was that we had the opportunity to explain our position. I think especially when you do not have the same approach, it’s good to have an exchange of views.”
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

(Read the full interview with The Washington Post here).

Sebastian Kurz was trailed by an unprecedented number of 22 Austrian and German journalists, among them six editors-in-chief and four camera teams, and gave numerous, mostly extended live interviews alongside his two official press debriefings. The Chancellor rounded up his trip to DC with an interview granted to German public television ARD (watch it here).

All photos (c) Dragan Tatic, unless noted otherwise.