U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Received Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: February 12, 2023; 23:15 ♦ (Vindobona)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg in Washington, D.C., as a sign of the strong transatlantic partnership. In the first bilateral meeting between the two foreign ministers, the two discussed cooperation on the Russo-Ukrainian war, the Western Balkans, the expansion of Austria's Strategic Partnership with the United States, and the Turkish earthquake disaster.

A reception was held for Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (r.) by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (l.). / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The focus of the U.S. trip and the talks with Secretary Antony Blinken was on strengthening cooperation to address the multiple crises. Austria is a strong and highly valued partner for the United States, the U.S. Secretary of State emphasized right at the beginning of the talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "I’m so pleased to have you here in Washington at the State Department. Austria is a strong and deeply valued partner for the United States. It’s been a pivotal player in European security and European stability."

Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Schallenberg discussed opportunities for a further bilateral and multilateral cooperation, including support for Ukraine and the need to hold Russia accountable for its aggression.

The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine in particular showed how important the transatlantic partnership is and how well it continues to function. The reason for this is not least the strong foundation of values on which it is based. The issue now is how the transatlantic partners can better protect and promote these values, such as the rule of law, democracy and human rights. Austria and the United States also want to provide Ukraine with the best possible support, both foreign policy experts underlined.

Also discussed were the consequences of the Russian war of aggression on the European and international security architecture, as well as the joint efforts of Austria and the United States for the security and stability of the countries of the Western Balkans. Due to Austria's expertise and experience in the region, good cooperation at eye level has developed over the past years.

Minister Blinken praised Austria's positive role in the Western Balkans and spoke about the importance of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as a forum for dialogue. The aim is to prevent violence from spilling over into the region and to continue to support stability, the rule of law, democracy and reforms. The two countries also want to cooperate more closely on other security hotspots in the Caucasus, the Indo-Pacific and Iran.

"There are difficult times ahead, and Secretary Blinken has mentioned some of the regions and some of the organizations where we are called upon to act, and I believe that the decisions that will be taken this year will have long-term implications," Austria's foreign minister said, referring to the Western Balkans and the OSCE.

Strengthening Austrian-American Relations

In addition to cooperation on foreign policy issues, the partnership between Austria and the United States is also to be strengthened in other areas. The basis for this is the Strategic Partnership concluded in 2019. After three years of pandemic-related restrictions on contact and travel, it is now particularly important to promote "people-to-people" contacts again. Foreign Minister Schallenberg, for example, suggested new initiatives in the fields of science, research and the arts. Other initiatives such as a "work and travel" program and an exchange program for media professionals are planned and will soon be implemented.

Economically, Austria-U.S. relations are currently soaring anyway. Austrian exports to the United States are higher than ever before. In addition, there is close cooperation to establish dual education in the United States, modeled on Austrian apprenticeships, to counter the shortage of skilled workers. On economic cooperation and the opportunities and hurdles of the U.S. market, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg also exchanged views with executives of U.S. subsidiaries of Austrian companies at a ReFocus Austria event.

As part of Schellenberg's two-day trip to the United States, the Austrian foreign minister also met with White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and CIA Director William Burns, Vindobona.org reported.


U.S. Embassy Vienna

U.S. State Department