VIENNA, April 18. /TASS corr. Dmitry Valeev/. The Austrian Foreign Ministry has appointed former ambassador to Russia Margot Klestil-Loffler as special representative for Russia, Austrian Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl told TASS in an exclusive interview before her first official visit to Russia.
"As part of a full-scale reorganization of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs we have established a Russian affairs department, along with the existing US and People’s Republic of China departments, with the goal of monitoring current foreign events in a more effective way," Kneissl said. "Consequently, I have appointed Margot Klestil-L·ffler as my special representative for Russian affairs due to her professional qualities and years of work experience in Russia."
Margot Klestil-Loffler is the widow of former Austrian President Tomas Klestil (1932-2004), who is known to have had friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian and Austrian presidents used to have rather informal relations and often conversed in German without an interpreter present. In 2004, Putin attended a funeral service for Klestil in Vienna. After her husband’s death, Klestil-Loffler served as Austrian ambassador to the Czech Republic (2005-2009) and later on as Austrian ambassador to Russia (2009-2014).
Karin Kneissl will make her first official visit to Moscow on April 19-20 to hold negotiations with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. She will also visit the Memorial human rights organization and participate in the opening ceremony of the Austrian Institute in Moscow (the center for the study of the German language and cultural exchange development). Kneissl started serving as Austrian Foreign Minister in December 2017 when the coalition government of the Austrian People’s Party and the Freedom Party of Austria.