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Russian, Austrian foreign ministers to hold talks in run-up to summit meeting

April 05, 2016, 5:16 UTC+3

The two ministers will exchange opinions on the most considerable international problems, including the struggle with terrorism, peace settlement in Syria, the situation in the Middle East etc

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© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS, archive

MOSCOW, April 5. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds talks on Tuesday afternoon with the Austrian Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, in what is seen as a prelude to the forthcoming Russian-Austrian summit meeting, since Kurz will accompany Austria’s Federal President Heinz Fischer on an official visit to Russia.

"The two ministers will exchange opinions on the most considerable international problems, including the struggle with terrorism, peace settlement in Syria, the situation in the Middle East, the prospects for resolving the crisis in Ukraine, and collaboration with the OSCE in the light of Austria’s term of presidency of the organization in 2017," the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"The discussion will also embrace separate issues of bilateral cooperation, like contacts in the cultural and humanitarian spheres and certain issues pertaining to history," she said.

The two sides say their relations are developing in an encouraging key and are characterized by stability, predictability and the absence of sizable problems. Austria maintains a line at a fruitful political dialogue with Russia at the top and high state levels and at keeping up the time-tested collaboration in various fields.

In this sense, it was not accidental that Austria was the first Western countries where President Vladimir Putin made a visit in June 2014 after the imposition of anti-Russian sanctions.

More than 1,200 Austrian companies are operating on the Russian market at the moment. Austrian businesses find woodworking, production of paper and pulp, the chemical industry, and the construction industry to be the most lucrative sectors of the Russian economy in terms of investment.

Energy sector is high on the list of priority spheres for Russian-Austrian cooperation. Vienna is one of Russia’s longest-standing European partners in the natural gas industry.

On the face of it, bilateral trade slid by 24.5% in 2014 versus 2015 and totaled slightly more than $ 3 billion. Elimination of this slump, which was largely caused by the latent crisis in world economy and the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions, remains a priority task.

The cultural aspect traditionally plays a significant role in Russian-Austrian relations. The reciprocal Seasons of Culture that ended in the autumn of 2015 became significant events for both countries. Their programme featured more than 60 actions ranges from exhibitions to concerts to film shows to literary parties.

Considering the capacious potential of tourism, Russia and Austria agreed to hold reciprocal Years of Tourism in 2017 in order to boost humanitarian exchanges and to build up tourist flows between the two nations. A Visit Russia national tourist bureau is to open in Vienna soon as a floor for helping tourist companies maintain permanent contacts.

Cooperation in the maintenance of historical memorials makes up an important element of Russian-Austrian cooperation. The Austrian side treats with much attention the World War II graves of Soviet citizens found on its territory.

All in all, about 87,000 Soviet citizens are buried there. The number includes 17,000 soldiers who died in the battlefield, as well as 70,000 prisoners of concentration camps.

The Austrians tend these graves and monuments in line with the 1955 state treaty on restoring an independent and democratic Austria.

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