The Governor kindly acknowledged the experience of the Ambassador and expressed his regret over the turmoil that his country had to suffer. He then stated that there would be certainly room to further expand Upper Austria’s relations with Afghanistan. Generally speaking, Austria does have the intention to invest in Afghanistan, especially in the fields of environmental technologies, sustainable energy and waste water treatment. The governor emphasized that after the fall of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan has experienced a new era of transition, and that the international community as a wholerecognizes the importance of the country, given its size, population and strategic location. Austria, therefore,shouldincreasingly take into considerationprospects of expanded relations with Afghanistan.
The Ambassador expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and went on declaringhis solidarity with the people of Upper Austria who have been heavily stricken by terriblefloodings. He then presented a brief overview of the achievements which have been made in the past 12 years in Afghanistan with the help of the international community. The Ambassador mentioned previousprojects in the Kunduz province, co-facilitated by the province of Upper Austria, and encouraged new projects to be launched.
An important area where assistance is currently needed is firefighting. Trucks, machinery and other equipment, as well as training for firefighters is much needed in Afghanistan’s populous cities. Waste collection facilities and refuse trucks are also required in the municipality of Kabul — any support here would be much appreciated.The Governor stated that he will look into possibilities in this respect and pledged to make necessary inquiries. The Governor mentioned that efforts are being made in Upper Austria to provide dignified living conditions for all Afghan refugees. He also insisted any specific requests for projects or similar assistance to be addressed directly to him.
The Ambassador expressed his desire for increased bilateral relations, arguing that many new areas could be identified for cooperation. He thanked the Governor for the support Upper Austria has rendered to Afghan refugees, and promised to seek new avenues for cooperation between Afghanistan and Upper Austria in areas including capacity-building and reconstruction.