National Day of Austria
HE Mr Wilhelm M Donko
Austrian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand
As Ambassador of the Republic of Austria to the Kingdom of Thailand, it is my pleasure to say a few words on the occasion of the Austrian National Day 2023.
It is already my second National Day in Thailand and meanwhile, we have made many friends here. My wife and I myself are very happy to live in this wonderful country. At first glance, Austria and Thailand are geographically far apart and very different, but we still have many important similarities, including our well-developed service industries. Tourism is an important source of revenue for both countries and accounts for a high amount of both of our GDPs, which means the sense for hospitality is important for both of us.
Thailand is traditionally one of Austria’s most important partners in Asia, and we have a long tradition of close cooperation in many areas, including in the fields of business, science and economic cooperation. Just like supporting Austrian citizens, supporting Austrian companies active abroad has always been one of our core tasks. More than 100 Austrian companies are currently represented in Thailand.
We also have a long tradition of working closely together politically, for example, in multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, not only between our two capitals, Vienna and Bangkok, but also in various formats between the EU and ASEAN.
I would like to briefly mention the historical background of Austrian National Day. It began in 26 October 1955 with a resolution of the Austrian Parliament stating Austria’s “permanent neutrality”, which has been a determining factor in our security and defence policies to this day. This declaration was a key element for the so called “Staatsvertrag”, or “State Treaty”, signed earlier in 1955, which ended a ten-year occupation of Austria by the four major victorious powers of World War Two, i.e. the USSR, USA, England and France. But our neutrality was never really understood as staying out of international affairs, not even in the Cold War. On the contrary, since joining the EU in 1995, Austria has participated in the EU's common foreign and security policies in a spirit of solidarity.
We have been demonstrating our European solidarity every day because Austria is militarily neutral, but we are certainly not - and never have been - politically neutral, for example, in the event of the massive and ongoing breach of the UN Charter and international law we saw in February 2022 with the unprovoked aggression by a nuclear armed state against its sovereign neighbour or in the case of the recent large-scale terrorist attacks against Israel. On instruction of the Austrian foreign minister, the Israeli flag was raised at the Ministry for European and International Affairs in Vienna as a symbol of solidarity.
The Republic of Austria has always supported effective multilateralism and the respect for the rule of law, core values of our foreign policy for decades, symbolized also in the successful establishment of the third Headquarters of the United Nations in Vienna, after New York and Geneva. As further proof of our willingness to take on further responsibility in the international arena, I would like to mention our candidacy for the UN Security Council at the elections in 2026.
I also would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Austrians living in Thailand for their important contribution to our very excellent bilateral state of affairs.
Please allow me to propose a virtual toast on our bilateral relations and friendship between the Republic of Austria and Kingdom of Thailand on the occasion of Austrian National Day 2023!