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AMBASSADOR ASHIRU CONCLUDES A TWO-DAY OFFICIAL VISIT TO AUSTRIA

By Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abuja

The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga A. Ashiru, MFR, has concluded a two-day working visit to Austria. The visit, which was in response to a similar one made to Nigeria in June 2012 by his Austrian counterpart and Vice Chancellor, Dr Michael Spindelegger, was aimed at consolidating and expanding the vistas of cooperation, partnership and engagement between Austria and Nigeria, focussing especially on trade and investment promotion as well as consular and related matters.

The visit, which took place from the 7th to 9th of April 2013 started with an interactive session with the Nigerian Community in Austria. This was followed by a tete-a-tete meeting with Dr. Michael Spindelegger; meeting with the Mayor and Deputy of Governor of Austria; the Austrian Federal President, His Excellency, Mr. Heinz Fischer and the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

At the meeting with the Nigerian Community, leaders of NIDOe and National Association of Nigeria Community in Austria (NANCA), condemned the recent attack of the Nigerian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal and urged Government to address outstanding matters of interest to them, notably, as Diaspora voting, the Diaspora Commission Bill currently before the National Assembly and relations with the Austrian Missions in Nigeria as regards the processing of documents and visas.

In response, the Honourable Minister, while expressing delight at the meeting, commended the community for their outstanding contributions to the development of Nigeria. He urged them to continue in this wise and to respect the laws and hospitality of their host country. He promised to interface with the relevant Austrian Government on issues raised by the Community with a view to ensuring that their welfare is promoted and dignity upheld.

A major highlight of the visit was the signing of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) between Austria and Nigeria and exchange of views between the relevant Austrian officials including President Fischer. Both Austria and Nigeria committed themselves to exchange of visits at all levels including the promotion of deeper and mutually beneficial economic cooperation between the two countries. They also agreed to support each other for elections at international organizations, beginning with Nigeria's bid for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for the period 2014 – 2015 and Austria for period 2027 – 2028.

In addition, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs informed his hosts of a Business and Investment Forum proposed to hold in Vienna from 13 – 15 May, 2013 as well as a cultural festival focussing on Adire fabric holding also in Vienna, Austria in June 2013.

The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs also seized the opportunity of the visit to brief his hosts on the economic and political developments in Nigeria, including the security challenges particularly the efforts of Government at tackling the menace. He urged the continued support and cooperation of Austria and through it, the European Union.

Discussions were also held on regional matters including the on-going military campaigns in Mali under the auspices African-led Peace Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) and the situation in Guinea Bissau. The Honourable Minister urged Austria to intensify its support for the success of the peace-keeping operations in Mali.

The Honourable Minister also held an interactive session with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce as part of his investment promotion drive. During the meeting, key sectors of the Nigerian economy were identified as areas of priority for foreign investment such as power, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure and transportation. The Chamber committed itself to working closely with the Nigerian private sector beginning with the proposed Business and Investment Forum, in these sectors.

At the meeting with Austrian Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, the Austrian government offered training facilities for young diplomats from Nigeria at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna. They urged Nigeria to grant recognition to the Republic of Kosovo, including Nigeria's support for establishment of an AU Regional Office in Vienna as well as commitment to the implementation of Re-admission Agreement concluded between the two countries in Abuja in June last year.

The visit ended with a formal dinner hosted by the Nigerian Ambassador to Austria, Her Excellency, Maria Oyeyinka Laose.

It is important to stress that the visit of Honourable of Foreign Affairs is the first working visit by any Nigerian Foreign Minister since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1974.

Office of the Honourable Minister,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Abuja
8th April, 2013