Friends, colleagues greet Dr Brigitta on her country’s National Day
Islamabad—It was a rare gathering of friends, diplomats, well-wishers, eminent personalities, noted politicians of the town as well as government officials who had come to celebrate Austrian National Day at Ambassador Dr Brigitta Blaha’s residence. One could see among the galaxy of guests Ambassador of France Martine Dorance, Ambassador of Hungary Istvan Szabo, European Union Ambassador Jean Francois Cautain, Charge d’Affairs of Portugal Joao Sabido Costa Unicef’s Representative in Pakistan Angela Kearney, Charge d’Affaires of Japan Embassy Junya Matsuura, PPP stalwart Sherry Rehman, World Food Programme Acting Country Director Stephen Gluning and others.
Federal Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer was the chief guest on the occasion. Rana Tanveer described Austria a close friend of Pakistan and a great supporter of Pakistan especially in the areas of energy, education and cultural exchange.
Last year the bilateral trade volume reached around 240 million Euros however, we are expecting yet another increase that will leave ample room for further enhancement of bilateral ties, said he. In the days to come, I expect further cooperation in these two areas and also in energy sector, said the chief guest.
Ambassador Brigitta Blaha in her welcome speech thanked the guests and shared the fact that her embassy was commemorating the day Austria regained its sovereignty after the World War II and 10 years of occupation by the allied forces.
About her country’s relations with Pakistan, she remarked that a number of Austrian citizens, such as Leopold Weiss, alias Muhammad Asad, a close friend of Muslim poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal or the mountaineer Hermann Buhl, who was the first to summit Nanga Parbat in 1953, played important roles in the early days of Pakistan. Austria has always attached great importance to its relations with this country.
“Today we note a steady diversification of our long-term partnership in economic, trade and commercial relations that have moved beyond project-dominated activities and Austrian companies are particularly active in the energy sector – be it gas (OMV, GE Jenbacher) or renewables such as hydropower (Andritz Hydro),” said she.
Austrian companies are also increasingly penetrating the huge Pakistani market in other sectors, including consumer goods like Red Bull and Woerle Cheese, she said.
She particularly, mentioned two other areas of cooperation to which Austria remains highly committed: culture and higher education.
Through its scholarship programme “Pakistan Grants”, Austria is currently hosting 60 Pakistani students who are pursuing PhD programmes or scientific research in selected disciplines. Proud of its rich cultural heritage and vibrant arts scene, Austria also puts great emphasis on promoting Austrian culture abroad in all its diversity, she said. She said Austria also supported and promoted young artists and creative professionals seeking to build an international reputation.