Friday, March 1, Vienna – President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with President Alexander Van der Bellen of the Republic of Austria.
Strengthening of relations between Lithuania and Austria as well as prospects for cooperation in the areas of economy, energy, science, arts, culture, and tourism were discussed at the meeting. Relevant EU matters of interest to both countries were also addressed.
The President extended her gratitude for Austria’s strong position and support to Lithuania on the geopolitical project developed by Russia – the nuclear power plant in Astravets, constructed a mere 50 kilometers away from Vilnius disregarding and in breach of international nuclear safety standards.
The selected site for the construction of the Astravets nuclear power plant was acknowledged to be unsafe at the Espoo conference in Geneva in February earlier this year. Austria, which has chosen the path of a non-nuclear state, strongly supports this position.
According to the President, the Astravets nuclear power plant poses a threat to the region’s safety; therefore, we should seek its closure. The Austrian experience shows that is only possible if there is political will and a sense of responsibility.
Austria’s support for Lithuania is very important as we continue to consolidate international support. Austria trains nuclear safety experts and is home to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA headquarters is located in Vienna.
As to EU issues, the presidents underlined that the UK’s failure to reach an internal agreement on Brexit has put pressure on the British people and the entire EU. Current political uncertainty in the EU impedes negotiations on the new multiannual financial framework, which may lead to delays in financial support for strategic projects.
Boosting EU resilience to hybrid threats was also addressed at the meeting. It is particularly relevant this year as people are about to elect new members of the European Parliament. Therefore it is necessary to take all the possible steps to avoid the interference of hostile forces.
Although Austria is a neutral state, it actively contributes to enhanced EU cooperation in security and defense (PESCO). Like Lithuania, Austria takes part in several PESCO projects, including those aimed at strengthening military mobility and cyber security.
The two leaders also emphasized that intensifying bilateral relations between Lithuania and Austria open new opportunities for the prosperity of both nations. Bilateral trade grew by 19 percent over the year, strong arts, culture and scientific ties are developed. The first steps are made in cooperation between Kaunas and Vienna Universities of Technology. Partnership between the cities of Vilnius and Salzburg fosters cultural collaboration. Considerable potential for bilateral economic cooperation lies in high and financial technologies as well as life sciences.