Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) met his new British colleague David Cameron in London on Monday. The focus of the content was on the situation in the Middle East and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. In addition, a “Joint Vision Agreement” was signed, which provides, among other things, for increased exchange of information, close coordination of foreign policy priorities and cooperation in the multilateral field.
This would bring relations with Great Britain to the level of a strategic partnership, the red-white-red Foreign Ministry said. “Brexit has created gaping holes in our relationship – politically, economically and humanly. Previous agreements have only partially fulfilled this. With today’s agreement, we are putting Austro-British relations after Brexit on a new basis,” Schallenberg said before the meeting.
Big plus for direct investments
He then told ORF: “In the last ten years, Austrian direct investment in Britain has increased by 60 percent; 160 Austrian companies are present here. But there is clearly still room for improvement.”
Schallenberg sees more opportunities for cooperation with Great Britain in the field of security. “Austria and Britain share an interest in security, stability and prosperity in the European neighbourhood. Even though they (the British) are no longer in the European Union, they are still a strategic partner,” Schallenberg said.
Hand in hand against anti-Semitism
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, another focus of the talks was the fight against anti-Semitism. “When ‘Jewish stars’ are smeared on the walls of houses and stumbling blocks are removed, we cannot limit ourselves to expressions of solidarity. We need concrete cooperation with European and international partners to effectively combat the scourge of anti-Semitism, both home-made and imported,” Schallenberg said in advance.
Unexpected comeback for Cameron
Former Conservative Prime Minister Cameron surprisingly returned to the forefront of British politics a few days ago. He was leader of government from 2010 to 2016, until he resigned following the Brexit referendum he called, during which he campaigned for his country to remain in the EU. Current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unexpectedly brought the 57-year-old, considered part of the Conservatives’ moderate wing, into his government as Foreign Secretary last week as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.
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