Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for your kind welcome remarks. The Queen and I really appreciate paying yet another State Visit to your country. The first time was in 1979. We still have a number of happy memories from that visit. At that time the Queen still had many good friends in Innsbruck from the years She worked with the preparations of the Olympic Games. This of course made our visit very special.
Austria and Sweden have been close friends for a long time and especially during the years right after the two World wars, when the Swedish Red Cross and Save the Children worked intensely to alleviate hunger and despair here in Vienna. Even today you can find many streets, sites and bridges carrying the name of important Swedish individuals. In that way, Swedish people do feel at home here in a very special way.
The relations between our two countries have been characterized by personal ties in many fields. Among others, I have in mind Josef Frank, the Austrian designer and architect who became famous and successful in his new homecountry Sweden. You can find his beautiful patterns and furniture in thousands of Swedish homes and certainly in many Swedish Embassies around the world.
The former Chancellor Bruno Kreisky has more than any other person symbolized the deep friendship between our two countries. In 1938 he came to Sweden as a refugee and from Stockholm he helped to rebuild your country after the war. He returned to his homeland to make extraordinary national and international contributions. I do remember how engaged he was in our first State Visit to Austria.
Since 1995 our two countries entered a new era when we became members of the European Union. Austria and Sweden have benefited from the fact that Europe is more united. Old historical contacts and networks have been reactivated and established towards Eastern Europe. This is true about Sweden´s contacts with the Baltic countries, Russia and Poland. In the case of Austria the neighbouring countries in Central Europe and on the Balkan peninsula have become closer. Austria and Sweden often adopt similar positions and have a close collaboration within the European Union.
Trade between our two countries is growing. More Swedish companies are opening up in Austria and benefit from the central location. I have heard about a number of examples today how Austrian and Swedish enterprises have expanded and deepend their relationship.
It is very exciting to see the mutual interest in developing renewable energy, as well as the deep involvement in issues like climate and sustainable development. These are essential problems for the whole world. It is therefore important to work across borders in order to change the present course of development. In these questions Sweden sees Austria as a very important partner.
Together with the other members of the European Union our two countries carry the responsibility of safeguarding and developing common European values: a huge challenge! We must secure a sustainable development in a globalized world to fight the threat of climate change and poverty. We are well placed to address these issues within the European family. Together we can make a difference. Several international organizations, among them a number United Nations agencies, are established in Vienna. Also within the United Nations system Austria and Sweden are cooperating in a successful way. Common values facilitate our cooperation.
Many Swedish people love to travel in Austria. They are attracted to Vienna and Salzburg, by the many historical landmarks, by the wonderful music and art, by the excellent food and well tasting wines. Not to forget the beautiful countryside! The Swedish people love the Alps both for trekking in summer and skiing in winter. Our national skiing teams compete with each other both in Austria and in other parts of the world.
Also my father was drawn to Vienna and the “Spanische Hofreitschule" where his dream to participate in a high-level dressage course came true. He stayed for six months.
Maybe some of you have visited Carl Gustaf and Silvia in Innsbruck? These two mooses were a gift to the Alpenzoo, in 1976, as a thank you to everyone who cared for and protected the Queen during Her three years stay in Innsbruck.
The Queen as well as myself are very fond of visiting your beautiful country. Between the two State Visits we have of course made all sorts of private visits and have always been well received. We have been very often to Grein and visited the castle where my Grandmother and my Uncle, whom we called “Morbror Fritz", lived during many years of their lives.
I wish that the cooperation and friendship between our two countries continue to be as warm and heartfelt as they are today.
Thank you very much for all your generous hospitality extended to the Queen, myself and my delegation. May I propose a toast to your health, Mr. President, to the friendship between our two countries and the people of Austria.