Hannes Richter

From the Editor

Hannes Richter

Dear Readers,

meran_new.jpgAmong the official anniversaries Austria is celebrating this year is another important event which has gone virtually unnoticed. It is the 100th anniversary of the birthday of James W. Fulbright, the creator of one of the most successful international student exchange programs. Some of the ideas which inspired Fulbright to develop this program are based on his early experiences in Austria.

Austria is preparing herself for the assumption of the EU Presidency at the beginning of next year. In anticipation of this new role, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik paid her first official visit to the U.S. and discussed Austria's EU agenda for 2006 with Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

After the negative referenda on the EU Constitution in France and the Netherlands, Austria has taken several steps to bring the European Union closer to the citizen, by establishing the platform  Europe is listening.

A central theme of the Austrian EU Presidency will be the so-called Dialogue Between Civilizations, Religions and Cultures, which has been a traditional focus of Austrian foreign policy. For the first time this summer, a past seminar in Vienna brought together representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church and Kosovo Albanians to discuss the future religious law of Kosovo.

An ancient Austrian custom may have helped Thomas Jefferson draft the Declaration of Independence.

Yours sincerely,
Christoph Meran