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President Radev Pays Official Visit to Austria

President Rumen Radev met with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Van der Bellen Friday during an official visit in Vienna. He was received with honours at Hofburg Palace and had one-on-one talks with his host. After that the two presidents held a news conference where they commended bilateral political, economic, diplomatic and cultural relations. 

Van der Bellen praised political relations and economic cooperation thanks to which trade between the two countries has reached 1,300 million euro.

The Bulgarian President underscored that, although this is his first visit to Austria, he has had numerous contacts with his host and has established agreement with him on a number of issues, including security, migration, the combat against drug and human trafficking, terrorism and organized crime. Radev expressed gratitude for Austria's support for Bulgaria's work with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and for this country's accession to the Schengen visa-free travel area.

The sides underscored the centennial cultural cooperation between the two countries that continues to this day. 

Particular attention was paid to the Danube Strategy concerning 14 countries, some of which outside the EU.

The two presidents also discussed the issue of migration and Radev underscored Bulgaria's role as an external EU border to manage the migrant crisis. He also said the EU should make a roadmap for the countries with land borders.

Commenting the EU integration of North Macedonia and Albania, Van der Bellen noted that there are cultural and political issues which have to be clarified but which should not stop the accession process. 

Radev said that Bulgaria is one of the countries that are most supportive of North Macedonia's accession to EU and NATO, but that support is not unconditional and goes hand in hand with clear conditions about history and language.

The sides also discussed relations with Russia and the sanctions on it. Van der Bellen said that a recent thaw in relations is encouraging but is not enough to lead to cancelling the sanctions. Radev spoke in favour of finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict which has led to the sanctions and said that if Europe aspires to play a leading role on the world  stage, it needs stability which is impossible without dialogue with Russia. 

The Bulgarian President also conferred with Austrian Federal Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein and the President of the Austrian National Council, Wolfgang Subotka.

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