Hannes Richter

Highlights of Fall Visits

Hannes Richter

Highlights of Fall Visits

In preparation of Austria's six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) starting on January 1, 2006, the months of October through December were highlighted by various visits of official Austrian delegations to Washington, D.C.

Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel

Austrian Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel met with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House on Thursday, December 8. During their fifty-minute conversation, they discussed a wide variety of issues, ranging from Austria s upcoming Presidency of the EU Council to topics of concern to the President, like North Korea and Iran. President Bush and Chancellor Schüssel also openly talked about the controversial issues of CIA flights over Europe and the alleged secret prisons.

Mr. Schüssel was pleased with the warm atmosphere of the talk, in which President Bush emphasized the importance of strong transatlantic relations and reiterated his interest in a close cooperation. Within this context, the President welcomed the foreign policy agenda of Austria s upcoming EU Presidency. After his meeting with the President, Chancellor Schüssel answered questions from journalists on the lawn of the White House and held a press conference at the Hay Adams Hotel. Mr. Schüssel announced payments by Austria s General Settlement Fund to victims of National Socialism within the next weeks.  Following the dismissal of the last claim in a class action suit against Austria, the so-called Whiteman Case, by a U.S. Court in New York, legal peace has now been achieved, said the Chancellor.

Chancellor Schüssel and President Bush in the Oval Office. Photo: Eric Draper (White House)

During his one day visit to the Nation's Capital, Mr. Schüssel also held meetings with members of the U.S. Congress, including the Chairman of the House Internaional Relations Committee, Henry Hyde (R-IL), and the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar (R-IN).

The Chancellor ended his stay with a guided tour through the National Archives and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Minister Martin Bartenstein

From October 26-28, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Labor, Martin Bartenstein, held a series of meetings with U.S. government officials and representatives of various interest groups in Washington, D.C.: Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez; Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao; U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman; Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, and others. The meetings concentrated on four areas: 1) the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the preparation of the Conference of Ministers in Hong Kong on December 13-16; 2) the preparation of the EU-USA Summit in Vienna 2006; 3) macroeconomics and 4) the job market.

Additional topics included strengthening transatlantic relations as well as global challenges confronting the world economy.

From October 5-7 Minister of the Interior Liese Prokop and Minister of Justice Karin Gastinger held meetings for the EU Troika in Washington, D.C., in addition to bilateral talks with their U.S. counterparts.