…during high level talks with diplomatic and business delegation
Zambia is ready to facilitate a diplomatic come back for the republic of Austria says Foreign Affairs Minister hon. Joseph Malanji during a high-level meeting with a diplomatic and business delegation from Austria.
Speaking through Permanent Secretary for Administration Dr Ronald Simwinga, the Minister said Zambia provides a better environment for physical diplomatic escalation in the region largely due to its location and associations.
“We belong to SADC and COMESA which are crucial for economic diplomacy and we are also surrounded by eight countries which makes us the ideal location for diplomatic representation,” said Dr Simwinga.
The Permanent Secretary also touted the warm history Zambia enjoyed with Austria before they ceased having an embassy in Zambia and Zimbabwe about 1989 due to logistical concerns.
“I have travelled to Austria a number of times myself as a Treasury Official and I know that we worked well together,” said Dr Simwinga.
The Austrian delegation was led by the most senior diplomat in the Foreign office Dr Johannes Peterlik accompanied by honorary consul of Zambia to Austria and businessman Heinz Messinger along with a business delegation.
The delegation also included Zambia’s Ambassador to Germany and Austria H.E Anthony Mukwita who facilitated the back to back meetings that commenced with a top call to the Vice President of Zambia Mrs Inonge Wina in the morning.
Ambassador Mukwita described the meeting with the Vice President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs as a milestone that could lead to greater and closer relations with Austria, a triple A rated European country with a population of 8 million and a GDP of almost US$500 billion.
“We are grateful to the Ministry for facilitating these meetings as we seek to escalate economic diplomacy and we also are grateful to Austria and Dr Peterlik and Mr Messinger for making the long trip here,” Ambassador Mukwita said.
Apart from the meeting with Dr Simwinga who represented Minister Malanji, and the earlier meeting with Vice President Wina, Ambassador Mukwita and the Austrian team held meetings with Economics Association of Zambia President Dr Lubinda Habazoka, the Ministry of Transport and Communication and the Ministry of Health.
AME International, an Austrian company, is seeking to upgrade the Cancer Centre and the paediatrics ward at UTH through the facilitation of Heinz Messinger who visited the hospital in July and has access to zero rated financing from the government of Austria in order to save lives.
Dr Peterlik said once Austria makes the decision to expand its foot print in Africa, Zambia would definitely be the country to consider on the top of the list largely due to its unparalleled history of 55 years of peace.
The delegation is expected to leave Zambia by the weekend after Ambassador Mukwita also meets the Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Simon Miti who has an interest in the proceedings.
Zambia remains known internationally as an oasis or beacon of peace, a case Vice President Inonge Wina reaffirmed to the Austrian delegation during the first high level meeting between the two countries.
Austria’s AME International remains keen to sign an MoU with Zambia for the zero-rated financing package for the Cancer Centre and the children’s ward in order to save lives.