SLOVAK Prime Minister Robert Fico paid an official visit to Austria in mid January, during which he met with Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, and other representatives of Austria, to discuss bilateral relations, with an emphasis on the economy, transport, energy and cross-border cooperation.

Thousands of Austrian businesses have branches in Slovakia and, after German firms, their impact on Slovakia’s economy is the second highest. Fico and Faymann see cooperation of countries within Europe as a recipe for combating the economic crisis. According to Faymann, looking for a solution for one country is not a solution, and it is therefore necessary to cooperate with other countries.

“We would like to improve cooperation with Slovakia,” Faymann said to the Slovak public broadcaster STV.

Fico would like to see Bratislava get involved in the European rail project to connect Vienna and Paris.

“I am speaking about a project which is long-term and which might be financed from the Connecting Europe Facility,” said Fico, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Fico and Faymann also discussed the possibility of connecting Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest with a high-speed train, while Fico pointed out that Vienna and Bratislava are the closest capitals in Europe.

“We do not have any problems on the borders, we are together in the EU, we have the same currency, we have to utilise these advantages,” said Fico.

Other transport-related topics that were discussed were the planned construction of a bridge over the Morava River to connect Angern with Záhorská Ves, and cooperation between the airports of Bratislava and Vienna.

The politicians agreed to hold a special economic meeting to be attended by ministries of both countries, at which they would discuss several projects, especially the rail interconnection project.

Slovakia and Austria continue to have opposing views on nuclear energy. Among other energy topics that were discussed was the connection of Slovak’s main oil pipeline with Schwechat.

During his official visit, Fico also attended an economic forum at which he discussed Slovakia’s economic standing with representatives of Austrian companies.