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18. 5. 2018 22:03

Premier Babiš met with Austrian Federal Chancellor Kurz

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, 18 May 2018.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, 18 May 2018.
On Friday, 18 May 2018, as part of his working visit, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. They spoke mainly about the current European issues in the context of the upcoming Austrian presidency of the EU Council, as well as about the Czech-Austrian cooperation in the sectors of transport infrastructure or energy.

"Austria is one of our closest and natural partners in Central Europe. That is evidenced by the unique intensity of the Czech-Austrian political dialogue, which I greatly appreciate and which has been reinforced also by my meeting today with Austrian Federal Chancellor Kurz. We discussed mainly the European issues with respect to the upcoming Austrian presidency of the EU Council but also a number of other topics which connect the Czech Republic and Austria, be it the ever growing trade exchange and investment or the joint effort to improve the infrastructural connection between our countries,“ Premier Andrej Babiš summarised after the meeting.

The meeting also addressed European themes. Premier Babiš discussed with Austrian Chancellor Kurz the upcoming presidency of the EU Council which will be taken up by Austria in July. Austria will tackle topics crucial for Europe - migration, the next EU budget or Brexit.

"I assured Chancellor Kurz of Czech support. I also believe that in all of those issues Austria will contribute to a compromise that will be acceptable for all Member States. At the meeting I emphasised, however, that both for the Czech Republic and the Visegrad Group, the migration quotas are absolutely unacceptable and we reject them. The other countries cannot decide who will live or work in our country. We see a solution in hotspots, placed outside the EU territory, and in an active fight against smugglers," said Premier Babiš, adding that it is necessary to help outside Europe and to ensure appropriate living conditions in places from which people migrate.

The Czech premier appreciated that Chancellor Kurz's view of the asylum policy is similar to that of the Czech government. He also repeated that the aim of the asylum system reform must be full control of the external borders, not compulsory quotas. The prime ministers also spoke about the next European budget. The most substantial aspect for the Czech Republic is that the Member States have the opportunity to decide about the direction of funding and about investment priorities.

Both prime ministers agreed that the new formats of cooperation between the Czech Republic and Austria have a clear benefit for further strengthening of the Czech-Austrian neighbour relations and of the Central European region as such. Be it at the bilateral level, such as regular meetings of foreign ministers with the presidents of the border regions in the format 2+6 or the Czech-Austrian Discussion Forum, or at the level of regional cooperation the so-called Slavkov Declaration between the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.

In terms of economic cooperation, the prime ministers appreciated the steady growth in the turnover of mutual trade and investment, and they spoke about specific opportunities to further intensify the Czech-Austrian economic cooperation. They also discussed the importance of digital economy for sustaining economic growth and competitiveness not only at the national level but also at the level of the European Union as a whole. Another theme was modernisation of the transport connection between both countries. That concerns above all the road routes Brno - Vienna and České Budějovice - Linz, and the railway connection between Prague and Vienna, the modernisation of which into a high-speed line would shorten the travel time between both capitals to two and a half hours, and the line Prague - Linz.

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