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Western Balkans

Counter-Terrorism in the Focus of UN and Interparliamentary Cooperation

Reinhold Lopatka elected Chairman of the High-Level Advisory Group on Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism.

October 21, 2019

Worldwide Parliamentary Meeting: Presidents from 178 States Expected in Vienna

Austria will host the 5th World Meeting of the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) from August 19 to 21, 2020. Presidents of parliaments from 178 states and around 1,200 delegates are expected. This is the first time that a national parliament, the Austrian Parliament, has hosted this conference. The World Meeting will be organised in cooperation with the IPU and the United Nations.

October 16, 2019 · Updated: October 17, 2019; 14:45

EU Once Again Fails to Reach Deal on North Macedonia and Albania

The two Western Balkan states must continue to wait for the hoped-for start of EU accession negotiations. France, the Netherlands and Denmark blocked an EU decision in support of the two Balkan states and justified it with doubts about the progress of reforms. Austria has pledged its support until the last minute and has tried to turn the tide.

October 16, 2019

Visit of the President of the Republic of North Macedonia to Austria

While the North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski pays his respects to Austria and the Federal President continues to strongly support the accession of North Macedonia into the European Union, it becomes known from Paris that France's President Emmanuel Macron is vetoing EU accession negotiations with the Balkan states of North Macedonia and Albania, as he apparently considers the progress made so far in the two countries to be insufficient.

October 11, 2019

Schallenberg: Full Integration into the European Union for Albania

After his visit to North Macedonia, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg met with representatives of the Albanian state and city governments in Tirana.

October 8, 2019

25 Years of Diplomatic Relations between North Macedonia and Austria

Working visit of Alexander Schallenberg to the North Macedonian leadership in Skopje, with the aim of exchanging views on the opening of EU accession negotiations and regional issues, and to reassure North Macedonia of full Austrian support for a speedy EU accession.

October 7, 2019

New Croatian Foreign Minister in Vienna

The visit of the new Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić-Radman, to the Foreign Ministry in Vienna focused on the forthcoming EU Presidency, which Croatia will assume for the first time on 1 January 2020, as well as the possible start of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

September 13, 2019

Schallenberg: "Europe is incomplete as long as the countries of the Western Balkans are not part of the EU"

Foreign Minister Schallenberg once again sees Austria within the framework of the EU as one of the strongest advocates for the Western Balkan states and calls at the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Helsinki for a rapid rapprochement of the Western Balkan states.

September 3, 2019

Austrian Minister of the Interior: Observing Developments along the Western Balkans Route Closely

The North Macedonian Ambassador Nenad Kolev and Interior Minister Wolfgang Peschorn met for a working discussion in Vienna. In addition to bilateral cooperation, the topic of migration, in particular the Western Balkans route, formed the agenda.

August 13, 2019

EU Appoints Austrian Dr. Johann Sattler as New Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Council of the European Union appointed Johann Sattler as EU Special Representative (EUSR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He will also take over the role of the Head of the European Union's Delegation in Sarajevo.

August 9, 2019

Southeastern Europe Remains Focus of Austrian Foreign and Security Policy

The Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kemal Kozaric, and Interior Minister Wolfgang Peschorn met for a working meeting in Vienna. Bilateral cooperation and migration were on the agenda.

August 1, 2019

Foreign Trade Gains with the Western Balkans

Exports worth 1.35 billion euros to the EU accession candidates of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) are balanced by imports to Austria worth 1.25 billion euros.

July 16, 2019

Poznan Summit: Bringing Western Balkans Closer to EU Remains Priority

Chancellor Bierlein at the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Poland. The sixth Western Balkans Conference as part of the Berlin Process, which brings together heads of government from several EU states and their counterparts from the Western Balkans, dealt with connectivity at all levels.

July 9, 2019

First Visit Abroad Leads Foreign Minister Schallenberg to Finland

His first bilateral trip abroad took Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg to Helsinki. The trip focused not only on European policy issues but also on the EU Presidency, which Finland will take over on 1 July 2019.

June 25, 2019

Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg at EU Foreign Affairs Council for the First Time

In Luxembourg, Federal Minister Alexander Schallenberg represented Austria for the first time at the FAC Foreign Affairs Council and the Council of the European Union.

June 21, 2019

Albania and North Macedonia: No EU Accession Negotiations for the Time Being, but Austria Still in Favor of It

The decision to start accession negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia was postponed. Several EU states are blocking enlargement in the Balkans. The EU committee of the Austrian Federal Council demands that the Western Balkans become part of the EU. The Austrian Federation of Trade Unions, on the other hand, warns against hasty new admissions.

June 20, 2019

Austrian Top Diplomat Albert Rohan Deceased

As one of his first duties the new Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg had to inform the public about the death of one of the most distinguished diplomats of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Albert Rohan died shortly after his 83rd birthday. He had played a crucial role in shaping Austrian foreign policy in numerous international functions.

June 5, 2019

Western Balkans: Austrians Demand EU Accession Negotiations Begin

After the EU Commission issued a recommendation for the opening of accession talks with the two Western Balkan states North Macedonia and Albania, the European parliamentarians of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) Karas and Mandl demand that the "promises" be kept. The decision to open accession talks will be taken by the Member States later in June.

June 5, 2019

Turkish - Austrian Diplomatic Efforts Bear Fruit

According to outgoing Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has promised in a telephone conversation to ease the Turkish blockade of Austria in the "Partnership for Peace (PfP)" programme. The PfP is a NATO program aimed at creating trust between NATO and non-NATO members.

June 3, 2019

Foreign Minister of Albania Gent Cakaj Visits Vienna

Austria emphasises its continued support for the commencement of EU accession negotiations with Albania.

April 26, 2019

Montenegro and Austria Emphasise Good Relations

The Prime Minister of the Western Balkan country Montenegro, Duško Marković, and Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stressed in Vienna the good relations and the potential for further cooperation in the economic field.

April 12, 2019

International Financial Institutions World Bank Group and IMF Expand Presence in Austria

Important success for Austria's business location policy. According to media reports, the IMF International Monetary Fund will move to Vienna in June, while the World Bank Group will double the staff and size of its Vienna office.

March 29, 2019

Prime Minister of the Newly Named Republic of North Macedonia at the Vienna Opera Ball

Only a few days after the historic renaming of the Republic of Macedonia into the Republic of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, visited Vienna at the invitation of Federal Chancellor Kurz and together they visited the Vienna Opera Ball.

March 1, 2019 · Updated: March 4, 2019; 12:33

Austria Signed Memorandum with Economic Chambers of Western Balkan States

The representatives of the Economic Chamber and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Harald Mahrer and Karin Kneissl, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Economic Chambers of the Western Balkan states Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro. The aim is to strengthen regional cooperation at the economic level, particularly in the area of dual vocational training.

January 18, 2019

Kosovo - Austrian KFOR Mission Extension until End 2019

At a time when tensions between Serbia and Kosovo are once again rising due to the dispute over Kosovo's own army, Austria has decided to extend its deployment within the framework of the multinational peacekeeping operation in Kosovo (KFOR) until the end of 2019 with a contingent of up to 600 members of the armed forces.

January 11, 2019

Sebastian Kurz: EU and Switzerland to Intensify Relations Further

Federal Chancellor Kurz held a working meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset in Bern. The meeting focused on, among other topics, an assessment of Brexit, the Western Balkans, the nuclear agreement with Iran, relations with Russia and the priorities of the Austrian EU Presidency.

November 22, 2018

Meet the New Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria: H.E. Mr. Kemal Kozarić

The new Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria, H.E. Mr. Kemal Kozarić presented Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen with his letter of accreditation at the Vienna Hofburg.

November 7, 2018

Western Balkans - No Reconciliation in Kosovo Conflict

Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz visited Serbia and Kosovo during a trip to the Western Balkans. Since the last clash between the two heads of state Vučić and Thaçi in September, the talks have been suspended there. The EU should continue to support the search for a solution to the Kosovo conflict.

November 7, 2018

The Western Balkans: Resolving Outstanding Issues between Belgrade and Pristina Prerequisite for Serbia's Accession to the EU

As international and local pressure mounts on Belgrade and Pristina to define their relations with an agreement on normalization, the official Austrian visit to the Republic of Serbia as part of an economic and cultural delegation headed by Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen focused on bilateral economic relations, Serbia's EU perspective and the Belgrade-Priština Dialogue.

October 18, 2018

Enlargement Perspectives for the Western Balkans - The Role of Parliaments

During a panel discussion in the Austrian Parliament, the perspective of enlargement for the Western Balkans and, in this context, the role of parliaments were discussed. The future of the six candidate countries in the Western Balkans is within the EU. They need an honest perspective for this common future with the EU Member States. The EU must contribute to ensuring the stability of the democracies in these countries. The former President of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, attended the discussion.

October 11, 2018

Macedonian Community in Austria: 25th Anniversary of the Macedonian Orthodox Church

According to estimates, 25,000 Macedonians, including many from other parts of the former Yugoslavia, live in Austria. Despite the upcoming historic referendum in the Republic of Macedonia, it could be learned from diplomatic circles, that on the occasion of the Macedonia Austria Days in Vienna and on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Austria a concert of a traditional Macedonian folk dance orchestra with dances and songs and a reception with traditional wines and dishes from Macedonia was held.

October 2, 2018

Macedonia's Name Dispute with Greece: Macedonians in Austria Cast Their Votes

The Macedonians will decide next Sunday on a bilateral agreement between Athens and Skopje, which can pave the way for the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia to NATO and EU membership. Greece, which claims the name Macedonia for its northern region, should be made satisfied with "North Macedonia". The Macedonian foreign voters can vote for the referendum at the diplomatic representations of their country (diplomatic representations in Austria see below). Voters will be asked "Do you support EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between Republic of Macedonia and Republic of Greece?"

September 26, 2018

Austria Prepares for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union: ‘A Europe that protects’

On 1 July 2018 Austria takes over the EU Presidency for six months. The Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will focus on three topics: the fight against illegal migration, digitalisation and stability in the neighbourhood.

June 5, 2018

The Window of Opportunity for the Western Balkans

Will the Western Balkan countries be able to take advantage of the moment and will it bring the year 2018 closer to the European Union? In February 2018, a new Enlargement Strategy was presented in Strasbourg by the EU Commission. Bulgaria, currently having the Presidency of the Council of the EU, will organize a major Balkan’s Summit in May. Austria, for a long time one of the most prominent promoters of the EU Enlargement for the Western Balkans and a country deeply intertwined with the region, will assume the EU presidency in the second half of 2018. This year represents one of the crucial moments for enlargement as major steps need to be undertaken to reach the goal of making the enlargement perspective realistic for 2025.

April 26, 2018

Goals for Austria's Presidency of the Council of the European Union

On 1 July 2018, Austria will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from Bulgaria. During its Presidency of the Council of the European Union (1 July to 31 December 2018), guided by the motto "A Europe that protects", Austria will focus on three key areas: security and the fight against illegal migration, retaining competitiveness through digitalisation, and stability in the neighbouring regions (particularly the accession of the Western Balkans to the EU).

April 25, 2018

Telekom Austria Prepares Expansion in the Western Balkans

Telekom Austria is strategically strengthening its search for takeover targets and has made EUR 1 billion available in the war chest. CEO Alejandro Plater has announced his intention to expand again in the Western Balkans (Serbia, Croatia and other countries of former Yugoslavia).

April 11, 2018

Former US Ambassador to Austria Swanee Hunt Back in Vienna: Can Women Stop War?

Activist, philanthropist, billionaire's daughter, Democrat, Harvard lecturer and former US Ambassador to Austria Swannee Hunt returns to Vienna to be interviewed at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs (oiip) on the subject of "Can Women Stop War?

April 11, 2018

The Western Balkans Remain a Priority of Austrian Foreign Policy

Because of a common history and the tradition of political, cultural and economic relations, Austrian foreign policy has always attached particular importance to the Western Balkans. The primary goal of Austrian foreign policy is to support the transformation of the Western Balkans area into a zone of stability. From the Austrian perspective there is only one option for the Western Balkans: a full European integration of the region. However, the political commitment from the regions' leaders is expected.

February 28, 2018

Western Balkans Summit was Held in Paris

Following the 2014 Western Balkans Summit in Berlin and the Vienna Western Balkans Summit of August 2015, the third Western Balkans Summit was held in Paris in the context of the ‘Berlin Process’. More than 500,000 of the people with migration background who live in Austria are from the region. Austrian companies have hundreds of branches or subsidiaries in the Western Balkans, which clearly illustrates the very close economic relations.

July 8, 2016

Western Balkans Countries Discussed Investment, Jobs and Integration in Vienna

The World Bank and the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw) held a high-level policy dialogue on ‘Investment, Jobs and Integration’ last week. Ministers and senior officials from the Western Balkans region as well as policy experts from international organisations and the business community gathered to discuss the challenges the region is currently facing, in particular the high unemployment rate, low international competitiveness, and lack of modern infrastructure.

July 8, 2016

Vienna Insurance Group Buys AXA Subsidiaries in Serbia

Vienna Insurance Group (VIG) is acquiring AXA’s life and non-life companies in Serbia. The purchase will increase VIG’s market share in Serbia to around 11.5 percent.

July 7, 2016

Central European Initiative Discusses Refugee Crisis in Banja Luka

Foreign Ministers of the 18 member states of the Central European Initiative (CEI) met in Bosnia Herzegovina, which holds the initiative’s annual rotating Chairmanship this year. Discussions mainly focused on the refugee crisis and potential solutions.

June 20, 2016

The Western Balkans Conference Which Led to Row Over Worsening Refugee Crisis

Convened on the initiative of Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and Austrian Minister of the Interior Johanna Mikl-Leitner, the Western Balkans conference “Managing Migration Together” was held at the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Vienna. 18 foreign and interior ministers from the Western Balkans attended the conference. The participants included the foreign and interior ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

February 26, 2016

Central and Eastern Europe's Financial Elite Gathered at the CEE Forum in Vienna

The 21st Euromoney Central and Eastern European Forum ended in Vienna today, where 1000 delegates from the region joined local and international investors to help plan, debate and analyze the economic agenda for the region for the year ahead. The vast majority of the delegates have a negative outlook for the year 2016. Only one of the participants expects that this year CEE will grow more than 3.5%.

January 20, 2016

Strabag Builds Hydroelectric Power Plant in Bosnia-Herzegovina Worth € 57 Million

A consortium consisting of Austrian construction group Strabag and Croatian industrial company Končar has been awarded the contract to build the Vranduk power plant on the river Bosna on behalf of energy supply company JP Elektroprivreda BiH.

January 11, 2016

Report: Drug Money and Opiate Trafficking on the Balkan Route

A report recently launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows that the total value of illicit heroin and opium trafficked from Afghanistan to Western Europe through the Balkans amounts to some $28 billion every year. Sixty-five per cent of this total ($18 billion) is generated in Western and Central Europe.

December 14, 2015

Austria Supports Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU Reform Agenda

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Secretary General, Linhart visited Sarajevo. EU-accession and fight against radicalization were in the centre of the talks. Linhart: “Full support for the Bosnian reform route”.

November 20, 2015

Only Full EU-Integration Can Stabilise the Western Balkans for a Lasting Time

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz commented on the European Commission’s progress reports, which were presented earlier this month: “Most of the Western Balkans countries’ progress on their way in direction of EU-membership is noticeable and positive. The Commission’s new methodology renders possible an improved analysis on the progress made in the respective countries in the last year. This creates a positive competition. The new progress reports also underscore that all candidate countries still have a lot of hard work before them and EU support towards this is essential. The current refugee crisis is no exception in this respect as it shows, how important the Western Balkans countries and Turkey are to Europe in tackling this particular challenge.”

November 18, 2015

Linhart: “Foreign Policy Should Focus on Stabilization of Neighbouring Regions”

“The European foreign policy must focus more of its attention on the neighborhood, the stabilization thereof – and in the case of the Western Balkans, their way towards the EU – has to be our European priority”, Secretary General for Austrian Foreign Affairs, Dr. Michael Linhart declared on the occasion of the 19th Europe Forum of the Austria Institute for Europe and Security Policy (AIES) in the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna

November 18, 2015

EBRD Sees Mixed Outlook for CESEE Countries in 2015-16

The outlook for economies in central and south eastern Europe is improving on the back of eurozone monetary easing but prospects further to the east of the transition region have worsened, as the impact of Russia’s recession intensifies.

May 14, 2015
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