Within the framework of the official visit of the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, to the Republic of North Macedonia, Presidents Pendarovski and Van der Bellen held a joint press conference.
Below is the full text of President Pendarovski’s statement.
Respected media representatives,
Today I have the honor of hosting the President of the friendly Republic of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, who is paying an official visit to our country.
This visit is particularly significant for us because it is taking place in challenging times of global crises, at a time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine is fundamentally changing the security, political and economic structures of the continent, and processes are moving in our region that can help to its permanent stabilization and faster European integration.
On the other hand, Austria is historically present in our country and in the region, both politically and economically. It is one of the first European countries that feels the effects of the positive processes, but also of the negative tendencies in the Balkans. That is why meetings with Austrian interlocutors are more than useful and always filled with mutual trust and respect.
It is clear that we had a sincere and contented conversation with President Van der Bellen, as are always the meetings with my dear colleague, during which we confirmed the firm friendship and partnership between our two states and our two peoples. North Macedonia and the Republic of Austria nurture traditional ties through an open and intensive dialogue, and that is why bilateral relations are at a high level – economic, parliamentary and sectoral cooperation mark rise.
One of the key topics we discussed was our European integration process and on this occasion, I want to thank Austria for its strong support of the European Union’s enlargement policy and its undisputed continuous and principled support for us in that process and context.
We also talked about the current political situation and open issues in the Western Balkans. Austria, as a proven friend of the region, has a significant role in pushing the policy of enlargement of the European Union with the countries of the Western Balkans, and thus this visit of the Austrian president also indicates the urgency of the Macedonian European file.
We agreed that in the absence of a clear European perspective, Euroscepticism will continue to grow and will certainly be a signal for some other forces working against European values.
Ladies and gentlemen,
A special focus in the talks was on intensification of economic cooperation. Austria is our important trading partner and the first foreign investor with total investments of close to one billion euros and with the presence of 54 active Austrian companies on the Macedonian market. In that context, we welcome and support the activities of the Macedonian-Austrian business association. It is a common geostrategic interest that the southeast of Europe should be democratic and developed to be a bridge for economic exchange with the growing markets of Asia.
Although Austria is at the top of the list of foreign investors in North Macedonia, it is undeniable that there are potentials for increasing the overall trade, to which we expect the Macedonian-Austrian economic forum we participate together with President Van der Bellen this afternoon, to contribute to.
To summarize, our common impression is that we had productive conversations today.
It is undeniable that our partnership will continue in the future with undiminished intensity. Next year we mark 30 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations, which will be another opportunity to reaffirm Macedonian-Austrian friendship and cooperation.