Published on 

Minister Byrne visits Slovenia and Austria to attend high-level forums

Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, T.D will attend the European Forum Alpbach tomorrow and Thursday (31 August - 1 September), following his attendance at the Bled Strategic Forum yesterday and today (29 - 30 August). The two high-level forums provide an opportunity for the Minister to meet with senior figures from the region to discuss the European security situation, European integration of the Western Balkans countries, digital and green transitions, as well as bilateral relations.


While in Slovenia (29-30 August 2022), the Minister is participating in the Bled Strategic Forum, a leading international conference in Central and South-Eastern Europe on contemporary and future political, security, strategic and developmental challenges. The Minister is speaking on a panel discussion entitled “How many futures for the EU?” The Minister is also meeting with Laurence Boone, French Minister of State for European affairs; Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues; Marko Štucin, Slovenian State Secretary for European Affairs; Bisera Turković, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo.


In Austria (31 August - 1 September), the Minister will attend the European Forum Alpbach, a platform that drives ideas for an empowered and democratic Europe. He will participate in a panel discussion related to Europe’s security. En marge of the forum, he will meet with Karoline Edtstadler, Austria’s Federal Minister for the EU, and Faruk Kaymakcı, Turkish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Speaking ahead of the visit Minister Byrne said: “I am delighted to be undertaking this important visit to Slovenia and Austria, to participate in two high-level forums exploring the future of our continent. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine highlights the importance of European unity and solidarity, the centrality of the EU to the future of Europe, and the strategic significance of EU enlargement.


“Ireland has always been a strong supporter of enlargement and, in particular, of the European perspective and membership ambitions of the six Western Balkans countries. Within the European Union, I, as Minister for European Affairs, have been clear that more must be done to hasten the acceleration of the Western Balkans into the European Union as well as countries such as Ukraine which have applied more recently. Our strong support for this will be one of the key messages I will to bring to the Bled Strategic Forum and the European Forum Alpbach, and also when speaking to my counterparts from across the region”.