Ghana and Austria on Wednesday signed two agreements to consolidate and advance the cordial bilateral relations between the two countries.
The two agreements, one on General Cooperation and the other on Defence Cooperation were signed after a bilateral discussion between the visiting Austrian delegation led by the Chancellor of the European nation, Karl Nehammer, and a Ghanaian side fronted by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The agreement on General Cooperation was signed by Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and the Foreign Minister for Austria Alexander Schallenberg, whilst that on Defence Cooperation was signed by Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul and the Austrian Foreign Minister.
The Austrian Chancellor is on a three-day official visit to Ghana. He is the first Austrian leader to visit Ghana.
At a press briefing after the bilateral discussions, President Akufo-Addo said deliberations between the two sides centered on issues relating to economic growth, trade and investment promotion, support for peace and security within West Africa climate resilience and adaptation, and education, amongst others.
He said as members of the United Nations Security Council, the two countries shared similar aspirations and have collaborated on the multi-lateral level, particularly on issues of security in West Africa as well as on issues of Global security.
The President said Ghana and Austria had agreed to tackle emerging security threats within the West Africa region, particularly on issues of terrorism, border security and maritime piracy.
He said the two sides had resolved to promote democracy in the region and reiterated firmly their mutual stand against unconstitutional regime change in governments.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana had also courted the support of Austria for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), whose secretariat is in Accra.
He said the investment and business opportunity offered to the Austrian private sector by the infrastructure required to make the African markets under the AfCFTA arrangement was enormous.
The President indicated that in the 21st century, the close collaboration of stable, fully functioning democracies such as Ghana and Austria, would offer a great boost to the growth of stable constitutional governments around the world.
He said the shared vision of the possibilities of deeper trade and investment relations and cooperation between Ghana and Austria was the “most effective way towards building a sustainable future of progress and prosperity for our respective countries and populations and maintaining a healthy relationship between our two Nations.”
President Akufo-Addo made known that Ghana had resolved to work with Austria in taking steps needed to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
He said though many countries are playing their part, stronger and urgent efforts are needed to reduce emissions and to help the most vulnerable countries cope with devastating climate impact.
The President said he solicited the support of Austria for the overdue reform of the United Nations Security Council to correct the “long-standing injustice” that the current structure of the Security Council represents for the nations of Africa.
On the migration of African youth to Europe, he said the Austrian Chancellor and his delegation reiterated their determination to champion the humane treatment of illegal migrants as well as the protection of their human rights in accordance with international law both in Austria and the European space.
Touching on the Russian war in Ukraine, President Akufo-Addo said Ghana like the rest of the world had not been spared the effects of the conflict, and it was his hope that it could be speedily ended to enable Ghana and the rest of the world hasten their economic recovery process and secure peace in Europe.
Chancellor Nehammer on his part said his country would continually deepen and make its ties with Ghana a priority,
He announced that Austria would be opening an embassy in Accra to inject more dynamism into all areas of bilateral relations with Ghana.
Bilateral relations between Austria and Ghana have traditionally been close and friendly and have been deepened and broadened over the past few years.
The two nations signed a bilateral agreement in 2015, where officers of the Austrian Armed Forces hold courses on humanitarian assistance and for political advisors at the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Centre in Accra, as part of Austria’s cooperation with ECOWAS.
Trade relations have also developed in recent years. In 2021, total trade volume amounted to some 18 million euros. Ghana exports cocoa beans to Austria, and imports machinery from the central European country.
Austria has also granted several soft loans to the tune of several millions of dollars to Ghana in recent times.
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