Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. EPA, ETTORE FERRARI
“Greece has made progress in a number of structural reforms in recent years and the growth of the Greek economy is an indicator of this positive development,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in an exclusive interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), ahead of the European Council meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
Regarding the agreement between Greece and FYROM, he said: “Austria has sent a clear message of support through the visit there by European Affairs Minister Gernot Blumel and my own in Skopje before the referendum. We are confident that a solution can be found. Because this agreement is a historic opportunity for the country and the whole region – and is on the path to joining the European Union.”
On migration, the Austrian Chancellor underlined that “we should not leave countries that are on the EU’s external borders, such as Greece, to cope alone,” and that Austria therefore supported the European Commission’s proposal to reinforce Frontex with 10,000 additional staff by 2020 and give it a new mandate. “Above all, it must be possible to work with third countries to combat traffickers. So we are able to stop the deaths in the Mediterranean,” he said.
Referring to the Austrian Presidency of the European Union, he stressed that his country wants to use its presidency to make a positive contribution to the future of the EU. “We will continue to focus on closer cooperation in the areas of security, migration and competitiveness through digitisation, as well as stability in our neighborhood, especially in the Western Balkans,” he added.
He said that his country attaches “particular importance to its traditional role as a bridge-builder”, while underlining that during its presidency Austria “will continue its efforts to ensure that the European perspective of all Western Balkans countries is made specific and that measurable progress is achieved