Iran, Austria: Relations with tradition, shared perspectives

heinz-fischer-1 by Heinz Fischer,
Austrian President

Upon invitation of President Hassan Rouhani, I will pay a visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran from September 7-9, 2015. A high-level political, economic, scientific and cultural delegation will accompany me. I am very much looking forward to my stay. This is my second visit to Iran. I first visited Iran in the year 2000 in my capacity as president of the Austrian Parliament.

Austria and Iran share close relations for more than 160 years. In 1850, then Iranian Prime Minister Amir Kabir invited Austrian professors of medicine and mining to Iran. They made a great contribution to the establishment of the Dar al-Fonun (House of Sciences) in Tehran.

Austria established its first diplomatic mission in 1872. Iran opened its embassy in Vienna in 1878. Today, a great number of medical doctors of Iranian descent are working in Austria. They are highly regarded and make a significant contribution to the Austrian health system. Since the 1960s, more than 1,000 young Iranians per year study at Austrian universities. Today, their number is almost 1,500. They show high commitment and work hard.

Austria was honored to host the E3+3 negotiations in Vienna. I welcome the positive conclusion of the negotiations and the agreement on a “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”. It shows that with persistence, goodwill and the readiness to compromise a good result for both sides can be achieved by way of diplomacy. I hope that the planned roadmap will be implemented by all sides, in every respect.

Our joint efforts should be aimed at establishing an area free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Austria will do its best that the international efforts towards this goal will be strengthened. Together with 113 countries, Iran has supported the “humanitarian pledge” initiated by Austria. It draws attention to the catastrophic humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons and aims to prohibit and eliminate them.

I hope that after the positive conclusion of the nuclear talks, a solution will be facilitated for the bloody conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Iran, a leading regional power, can make an important contribution in this regard.

Many Austrians are fascinated by the rich cultural heritage and ancient history of Iran. We expect a significant increase of Austrian tourists to Iran in the years to come. Austria´s tourism industry and her tourism colleges are ready to provide their know-how in these areas.

Over many years, Iran has been Austria’s second most important business partner outside Europe. It is a country rich in natural resources and highly educated people, which has been at the crossroads of important trade routes for thousands of years.

During the “Iran-EU Conference, Trade and Investment” organized by Iran on July 23-24, 2015 in Vienna, interesting investment opportunities have been presented. In preparation of my visit, Iranian ad Austrian ministries have identified areas of a future cooperation. A roadmap will be worked out which will identify projects in the fields of energy, environmental technology, tourism, infrastructure, transportation, forestry and civil protection. Austrian companies are highly interested in joint ventures with Iranian companies in order to realize the great potential of the Iranian market as partners.

I am convinced that my visit to Iran will bring the people of our two countries closer, and I am very much looking forward to it.