Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani Visits Vienna

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: December 13, 2022; 22:14 ♦ (Vindobona)

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani came to Vienna for a meeting with Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and Chancellor Karl Nehammer. The visit of Tajani asked for the opportunity to consolidate cooperation and talks with Vienna on the main bilateral issues (especially in the fields of economy, energy and infrastructure), European and international, starting with the migration issue.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg received his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani. / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani was received by his counterpart Alexander Schallenberg for a meeting followed by a press conference in Vienna.

In addition to exchanging views on the excellent bilateral relations, the talks focused on joint action in response to the Russian war of aggression, European integration in the Western Balkans and the fight against illegal migration.

Furthermore, the Austrian Foreign Minister welcomed the clear position of the new Italian government on the side of Ukraine and the strong condemnation of the Russian aggressor. For especially in the coming months, said Foreign Minister Schallenberg, unity and strategic patience at the European level are essential. Only in this way, as a strong EU-27, could the battle of narratives against Russian disinformation be won in other regions of the world as well.

In light of Hungary's blocking of billions in EU aid to Ukraine, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani has called for the abolition of the national veto on European decisions. "Unanimity blocks Europe," Tajani said at the press conference in Vienna, according to ORF. The latter let it be known that they would not give in to Hungarian blackmail tactics.

The two foreign ministers also agreed that with the Western Balkans in close geographic proximity, both Austria and Italy's economic and political stability in the region is in the interest of both states. Foreign Minister Schallenberg - as well as his Italian counterpart - emphasized the necessity of granting Bosnia and Herzegovina the status of an EU candidate country. As a sign of solidarity with the Western Balkan state, the two foreign ministers announced a joint trip to Sarajevo after their meeting.

Illegal migration

Concerning illegal migration, the two foreign ministers also spoke out in favor of European solutions and close bilateral coordination because of the massive influx of migrants via the Balkan and Mediterranean routes.

In this context, Foreign Minister Schallenberg assured his counterpart that Austria understands Italy's difficult situation due to its exposed geographical position. He pointed out that Austria recently had the highest number of asylum applications per capita in the EU.

The most recent topic of discussion was the Alpine transit traffic between Austria and Italy via the Brenner Pass. In this regard, too, Foreign Minister Schallenberg hopes for concrete results of the talks between the EU Commission, Germany, Italy and Austria soon. To be able to shift freight traffic to the railways, the Brenner Tunnel must be completed quickly, on the one hand, and sufficient capacities for rail expansion in Italy and Germany must be created, on the other.

South Tyrol issue

The excellent relationship between Austria and Italy is already reflected in the fact that the first bilateral foreign visit since taking office brought the Italian Foreign Minister to Vienna.

Foreign Minister Schallenberg welcomed this and spoke of the inestimable value of having a true European like Antonio Tajani at the helm of the foreign policy of an important European partner like Italy. In addition to close coordination at the European level, both foreign ministers emphasized the further development of South Tyrol's autonomy as a special area of cooperation.

"The solution of the ethnic group issue in South Tyrol, with the guarantee for the rights of the German-speaking minorities, is a European showcase for peaceful coexistence in Europe and worldwide, which could be a model for the states of the Western Balkans, for example," emphasized Foreign Minister Schallenberg.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Italy was also received by Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer and participated in a meeting organized by the Presidium of the European People's Party (EPP) and attended by the heads of the national delegations of the EPP.

Italien Foreign Ministry