“I have observed a significant willingness to cultivate relations with Turkey further during my official engagements [in Austria]. … I have realized the importance attributed to Turkey [by Austrians] in various fields,” Ambassador Sezgin explained, visiting Zaman's Vienna office on Monday.
Sezgin said high-level diplomatic visits make a significant contribution to the further development of relations, noting that bilateral visits between Turkey and Austria have increased in recent years.
“Austria is currently the largest direct investor in Turkey. Also, the Austrian media often covers stories and publishes editorial news on Turkey. All of these show the interest paid to Turkey,” Sezgin further elaborated.
With $2.18 billion of foreign direct investments (FDI) in Turkey, Austria led the EU countries currently investing in Turkey in the first eight months of 2011, according to a Balance of Payment Statistics report released by the Central Bank of Turkey in October 2011.
Underlining that manpower has an important place in Turkish-Austrian relations, Sezgin claimed that Turkish citizens and Austrian citizens of Turkish ethnicity have successfully integrated into Austrian society.
In November 2010, during the tenure of Ecvet Tezcan as Turkey's previous envoy to Austria, Turkish-Austrian diplomatic relations almost crossed the threshold of a crisis. Tezcan angered the Austrian government when he suggested in a newspaper interview last autumn that Turks living in Austria were treated “like viruses” and denied the chance to integrate. Turkey's veto of Austrian-nominee Ursula Plassnik for the position of general-secretary of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) added to the tension last June.
Later in 2011, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said he spoke to Davutoğlu, defusing the growing tension between the two countries.