Opening Remarks by Mr. Masakatsu Koike Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs
at the 11th Meeting of the Japanese-Austrian Committee for the 21st Century

Vice Minister Koike

November 5, 2007

Chairman Bruckmann, Chairman Ishizaka, Distinguished members of the committee,

I am honored to extend opening remarks on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the 11th Meeting of the Japanese-Austrian Committee for the 21st Century.

First of all, I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the efforts made by co-chairmen and members since it was set up in 1994. I am delighted to learn that this committee has continuously had very fruitful discussions on various issue of mutual interest at the last 10 meetings.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Japan and Austria will celebrate 140 years anniversary of our diplomatic relations in 2009. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs designated the year 2009 as "Japan-Austria Year." I hope that our friendly relations will be further promoted at both public and private levels toward this memorable year.

I understand that today this committee is to have intensive discussions under the title "Sharing universal values and diplomacy". Japan and Austria have worked very closely to promote these values in Central and South Eastern Europe, and our efforts have borne fruits in such ways as the enlargement of the European Union towards east, and our very active business relations with this region.

Japan has continuously assisted countries of Central and South Eastern Europe in their efforts to adopt democracy and market economy, mainly through extending ODA to these countries, and in recent years through high-level exchanges and dialogues on a bilateral basis as well as in the formats of V4 plus Japan and GUAM plus Japan. Japan has also hosted seminars on investment promotion and economic development in these countries, including the Economic Development Forum of the Western Balkans which Japan and Austria co-hosted in Vienna last year. Japan intends to continue to support these countries in partnership with Austria.

Bearing this background in mind, I hope today's meeting will make constructive suggestions on ways of stronger partnership of Japan and Austria, in promoting universal values such as democracy and market economy in Central and South Eastern Europe.

I would like to conclude my remarks by expressing my gratitude to all of you for your contribution and by sincerely wishing you the success of the meeting.

Thank you.

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