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    Austria - Sri Lanka relations at unprecedented high Featured

    October 27, 2014

    Austria’s relationships with Sri Lanka have reached unprecedented highs in the recent times, observed Chief Government Whip, Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Sunday (Oct 26).


    Participating in the celebrations held at the Hotel Galadari in Colombo to mark the Austrian National Day, the Minister said that Sri Lanka and Austria shared common values and ideals and enjoyed strong bilateral ties since the establishment of diplomatic relations 60 years ago. “This year we are celebrating the diamond jubilee of this relationship with events in Colombo and Vienna,” he said.


    The Minister also said: “It is my pleasure to join with all of you today on behalf of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the government and the people of Sri Lanka on this happy occasion of the celebration of the national day of Republic of Austria and extend warm felicitations through your Excellency to the government and people of Austria. The national day is a day where a country celebrates its history, culture and achievements, as a nation. Indeed today your country has emerged as a prosperous nation within the European Union. We extend our cordial greetings and warm good wishes to His Excellency Mr. Heinz Fischer, the president and the people of the republic of Austria.


    “Relations of our country has been enhanced by exchange of high level visits, people to ministers, mp's, Privet Sector's, people contact s between our two countries have also grown over the years, while tourism has greatly helped build bridges. The former Federal chancellor Mr. Alfred Gusenbauer is a great friend of our country and has been a regular visitor to Sri Lanka since retirement from his high office. These contacts have helped consolidate the close ties between our two countries.


    “Whilst Ceylon tea has become popular in famous Austrian cafe houses, I have learnt that the interest of Ayurveda is a major attraction which brings Austrian to Sri Lanka. In fact I understand that an “Austrian Ayurvedic resort and spa’ in Dickwella is fully booked all year around by Austrian tourists. The famous Salzburg in Austria is extremely familiar to Sri Lankan hoteliers and chefs, and Sri Lankan food festivals there have become extremely popular with local residents. These are facets of the strong cultural bonds between our two countries.


    “Trade and Investment between the two countries is also showing a significant and positive signs of growth. Our total trade with Austria stood at US$ 73 million last year. At this juncture, when the government under the leadership of His Excellency president Mahinda Rajapaksa has launched a major economic drive following the end of the conflict, Austria has become an important partner in Sri Lanka’s economic development. Education, Health, Water Supply and Sanitation, Sri Lanka has benefited from Austria’s generous development assistance while a large number of Non Governmental Organizations in Austria continue to support community development projects, poverty alleviation and technical assistance in various fields.


    “We sincerely hope these close interactions will help deepen the understandings of the common challenges our two countries face at the International level enabling us to work together in a spirit of friendly cooperation. Austria has a small Sri Lankan Diaspora and remains a popular destination for Sri Lankans in Hospitality trade and in the field of music. We are confident that theses close interactions will help deepen the understandings of the post conflict challenges faced by Sri Lanka and look forward to working together to strengthen cooperation at International fora.


    Consul of Austria in Sri Lanka Mr. Senaka Amarasinghe, local and foreign delegates and members of the diplomatic corps in Colombo were presented on this occasion. (Special Reporter/HC)

     

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