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Statement by Slovenian President after his discussions with President of the Republic of Austria

Brdo by Kranj, 04/16/2004  |  statement

On the invitation of Slovenian President Dr. Janez Drnovšek, the President of the Republic of Austria, Dr. Thomas Klestil, arrived this afternoon for an official visit to Slovenia. President Klestil, who is concluding his second term of office, congratulated President Drnovšek on the exceptional progress of Slovenia, which is joining the European Union as the best of the candidate countries, and stated that the two countries would no longer be just friendly neighbours, but also partners. The Austrian president said that a historic period in the development of Slovenia and the European Union was now behind us, and he was delighted that during this period we had cooperated so well in various functions. As for bilateral relations between the two countries, he stated that they are now on the highest possible level, and he also assessed very highly the development of economic cooperation between the two countries, with Austria occupying first place in terms of foreign investment in Slovenia. Slovenian President Dr. Drnovšek thanked President Klestil for his support during Slovenia’s process of association with the European Union, and expressed pleasure that just before Slovenia’s accession to the EU, he was able once more to exchange views with friends and neighbours both on bilateral cooperation and on the future development of the European Union. Here he highlighted the need for the close cooperation of countries in the European Union.

In his public statement the Slovenian President said:

"Over the past twelve years, during which Mr. Klestil was president of Austria, and I was prime minister and now president of Slovenia, I met with him many times. Each time we spoke a great deal about EU issues and about bilateral issues, and I am very pleased to state that during this period we have been able to achieve much. Slovenia is becoming a member of the EU, where together with Austria we will operate within a new framework, while our bilateral relations have improved enormously in the last twelve years. Gradually we have resolved individual problems, and today we can state that relations between our two countries are exceptionally good and very warm. And this is a very good basis for our joint functioning in the EU. Today we have highlighted certain issues that have not been completely resolved. From Slovenia’s point of view, this involves the issue relating to our ethnic community in Koroška . The most salient issue remains the question of bilingual signs, and today I drew the attention of the Austrian side to this. We truly desire that in the future, when we are cooperating even more closely as members of the EU, we might be able to resolve such issues finally, and not have to keep coming back to them. I think that on this, too, the president and I are in complete understanding, and I truly hope that such a spirit will also prevail where these issues are being resolved directly.”