Austria and Portugal Strengthen Bilateral Cooperation

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: July 2, 2023; 23:35 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg received his Portuguese counterpart João Gomes Cravinho for a meeting in Vienna. The talks focused on intensifying political and economic cooperation and strengthening foreign policy cooperation between the two countries. Furthermore, they emphasized the unity of the EU member states in the face of the Russian war of aggression and exchanged views on the situation in the Western Balkans.

"For Austrian companies looking for new markets, Portugal is the gateway to Latin America," said Austria's Foreign Minister Schallenberg. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons, Osvaldo Gago, Public domain

Economic relations between Austria and Portugal have recently intensified significantly. Last year, the number of Austrian branches in Portugal alone increased by one-third. This is mainly due to Portugal's good trade relations with Latin America and Africa, from which domestic supplier companies also wish to benefit.

Portugal serves as a gateway to Latin America for Austrian companies looking for new markets. At the same time, Portugal can benefit from the expertise and close ties of Austrian companies. This potential is now to be increasingly exploited by both sides, emphasized Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg about the benefits of closer economic cooperation.

The close ties with Latin America and Africa are also to be the focus of deepened foreign policy cooperation. Together, the two states could increasingly reach out to these regions to counter the Russian narrative in connection with the war of aggression against Ukraine and be a strong voice for democracy and the rule of law in these regions. Portugal, in turn, can benefit from Austrian expertise and close ties to the Western Balkans. The EU should not lose sight of these three regions despite its important support for Ukraine.

"We firmly oppose the Russian narrative that the West and Ukraine are to blame for the war of aggression. To this end, we need to significantly step up our engagement in Latin America and Africa, because the EU has had far too little political presence in these countries recently," Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg stressed, advocating a coordinated approach by EU member states.

During the talks, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg also presented the recently launched "Friends of the Western Balkans" initiative to his Portuguese counterpart. The goal of this initiative, as reports, is to bring the countries of the Western Balkans closer to the EU more quickly in a step-by-step process. To this end, they are to be involved in EU bodies and decision-making processes even before their full accession.