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First Visit in 27 Years: Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg Welcomes Indian Counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Vienna

AUSTRIA, January 1 - On 1 and 2  January, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg welcomed his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Vienna. It was the first visit to Austria by an Indian foreign minister in 27 years, and his fifth meeting with Foreign Minister Schallenberg in the past 12 months. In addition to bilateral talks, the agenda included meetings with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Karl Nehammer as well as with the Czech and Slovak foreign ministers. Their discussions centred around bilateral political, economic, and migration issues, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, and India’s current G20 presidency. 

In his talks, Foreign Minister Schallenberg emphasised the two countries’ excellent bilateral relations and their close trade and investment flows. The conclusion of multiple agreements, he said – including an extensive partnership in the area of migration and mobility as well as declarations of intent on cultural cooperation and on the employment of relatives of diplomats – are an indication of their strong mutual dialogue.

Today’s meeting is a visit between friends and shows that we have reached a high point in Austrian-Indian relations. India is already an important partner for us.  But we want more – more exports, more investments. We want to put Austria more clearly on the map in India. I am also very pleased that we were able to finalise our extensive migration and mobility partnership today,

 said Foreign Minister Schallenberg.

The migration and mobility partnership with India, said the Foreign Minister, was urgently needed because Austria had faced a dramatic increase in illegal migration during the past year. From India alone, more than 18,000 people with almost no chance of receiving asylum were registered.

Thanks in part to the obligation to quickly take back migrants who do not have the right to remain in the country, this agreement with India will be a useful instrument in our joint fight against illegal migration. At the same time, it creates opportunities to bring highly qualified Indian workers to Austria under the Red-White-Red Card,

said Foreign Minister Schallenberg, highlighting the advantages of the migration and mobility partnership.

In addition to bilateral issues, the Russian war of aggression was a particular focus of the discussion between the two foreign ministers. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg condemned Russia’s ongoing attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and population, and emphasised that lasting peace could only be achieved at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield. India, he said, could act as a mediator.

Peace is always achieved at the negotiating table, and this war will be no exception. I believe India can play an important role in this context. It has a long tradition of creating balance between the world powers, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one of the few people who holds regular talks with both Ukraine and Russia. I also have high expectations that the Indian G20 presidency will be a voice of reason,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, summing up India’s potential role in ending the Russian war of aggression as quickly as possible.           

The Russian aggression was also discussed during a meeting between Foreign Minister Schallenberg and Foreign Minister Jaishankar with their Czech and Slovak counterparts in the Slavkov format. The meeting participants all agreed that diplomacy would ultimately play a role in resolving the conflict. However, said Foreign Minister Schallenberg, that time had not yet come. Other discussion topics included approaches for dealing with an increasingly self-confident China, opportunities for strengthening relations between the EU and India, and regional developments in Afghanistan.

The day before their meeting, the two foreign ministers attended the traditional Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s concert at the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna.