Austrian Foreign Minister at the Young Entrepreneurs Summit in Germany

More+Events ♦ Published: October 14, 2022; 10:10 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg took part in the Young German Entrepreneurs Summit this year. The annual event took place this year under the motto "The World in Transition" and focused on the economic and social consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Schallenberg at the Young German Entrepreneurs Summit. / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

This year's Young German Entrepreneurs Summit in Germany was also attended by Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg. The event, which this year took place under the motto "The World in Transition", was held at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences.

True to the motto, the conference focused on the economic and social consequences of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine. This had dramatically worsened the situation for young family entrepreneurs. Exploding energy prices, supply bottlenecks and the shortage of skilled workers and labour are putting a strain on the German economy. Many companies are threatened with a free fall.

In his speech to the participants from small and medium-sized enterprises, Foreign Minister Schallenberg emphasised that a close and constant exchange between politics and business is essential, especially now in these challenging times, as socio-economic costs are becoming more and more noticeable. For example, we are all feeling the increased energy costs as well as high inflation, and entrepreneurs in particular are currently experiencing this directly.

"Every day they have to deal with rising energy prices, interrupted supply chains, painful dependencies, e.g. on critical raw materials, collapsing export markets and at the same time the labour shortage. In Austria, as in Germany, it is entrepreneurs like you who form the backbone of our prosperity. You drive innovation, create jobs and your contributions safeguard our social system," affirmed Foreign Minister Schallenberg.

Referring to the joint address by Putin and Xi Jinping at the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Schallenberg explained that we were in a systemic confrontation. Together, Xi and Putin called for a change in the world order according to their own ideas, which would be extremely dangerous for exporting countries such as Germany and Austria.

In this respect, however, Putin had made a serious strategic mistake, because since the beginning of September he had been establishing a clear link between gas deliveries and sanctions.

This is downright proof that, on the one hand, the sanctions are actually working and, on the other hand, trade and business agreements are no longer of any value to him. Even large companies like Gazprom are at the mercy of his arbitrariness, which permanently damages the credibility and reliability of Russian companies.

According to the Foreign Minister, the coming months will be challenging on several levels, but unity, a sense of proportion and nerves of steel must remain the order of the day, even in these difficult times, because for him there would be no alternative.

"If we allow ourselves to be divided, we have already lost. We must now exercise strategic patience. Let the sanctions work - because they do! I am convinced that our societies based on the rule of law, pluralism and individual rights are much more resilient than we ourselves believe," emphasised Foreign Minister Schallenberg.

Thus, autocrats would believe that we are weakened and united because of sometimes heated political debates, opposing opinions, a critical media landscape, a strong opposition and civil society, but it is precisely this that makes us adaptable and teachable.

"We remain the richest and most liveable continent, with unprecedented levels of personal freedoms, security and social justice in history. We should therefore have more confidence in our own strength and position. What matters now is to show them together that they are wrong," the Foreign Minister concluded.

BMEIA Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs