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25 years of Austria's successful partnership with Bhutan

For 25 years, Austria has accompanied Bhutan on its path to gross national happiness. In the last 20 years, it has promoted sustainable development there with EUR 54 million.

For a quarter of a century, Bhutan and Austria have enjoyed excellent bilateral and amicable relations, an excellent occasion for celebrations to in the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs: In addition to Mr Jigme Zangpo, Speaker of the National Assembly of Bhutan and Economics Minister, Norbu Wangchuk, who visited Vienna from October 6-12 with their respective delegations, many friends and supporters of Bhutan took part in the festivities. The well-known Bhutanese band, Druk Revival, provided musical accompaniment. On October 9, Mr Jigme Zangpo met with development cooperation experts in the Austrian Development Agency followed by talks in the afternoon with the members of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee for Development. "We are very pleased to have welcomed our distinguished visitors for a direct exchange of views," says Martin Ledolter, Managing Director of the Austrian Development Agency, the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation. "Our cooperation with Bhutan shows that development assistance works: Thanks to our contribution, every household in the Himalayan Kingdom today has access to electricity and we are also supporting the country's progress towards democracy by building courts of justice, for example."

On 10 October 2014 the visiting parliamentarians from Bhutan were received by the Austrian Federal President, Heinz Fischer. During their visit to Austria, the Bhutanese delegation informed themselves about such issues as tunnel construction and renewable energy. Besides many appointments with Austrian companies and a visit to the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, a discussion on e-government was also scheduled in the Federal Chancellery.

Development with know-how from Austria

Bhutan has set itself ambitious goals: By 2020, the Himalayan Mountain Kingdom is looking to make the leap from a least developed to a middle-income country. The Kingdom of Bhutan already singled out Austria as a partner in the 1980s to help it develop in areas where the Alpine Republic can draw on extensive know-how: forest ecology, hydropower use and tourism. Since 2010, 150 tourism professionals have been trained at the International School of Hospitality and Tourism in Thimphu, which was fitted out with modern facilities by Austria. Technology and knowledge transfer from Austria were also crucial for the expansion of hydropower. Today, almost all households in Bhutan have access to power. Since the introduction of the constitutional monarchy, Austrian Development Cooperation has also been helping to strengthen the young rule-of-law institutions in the country. Well-trained judges and five new court buildings in rural districts now ensure better access to justice.

Anniversary 2014

The 25th anniversary of good diplomatic and successful development policy relations between Austria and Bhutan have been the highlight of 2014: At the end of September and beginning of October, the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (vidc) organised a colourful cultural programme with concerts and films from Bhutan.

On the occasion of the anniversary, the Austria-Bhutan Society for cooperation, friendship and culture is supporting the reconstruction of a village temple in East Bhutan. During the reception at the Austrian Foreign Ministry, its two Vice-Presidents, Liselotte Waldheim and Eduard Graf, were awarded the Decoration of Merit in Silver for their services to the Republic.

Source: Austrian Development Agency, October 2014


Publication: 25 years of Austria's successful partnership with Bhutan
RAOnline Download
Bhutan Info
Austria-Bhutan: 25 Years of Partnership 1989-2014 [en]
2.1 MB PDF Download
Austrian Development Agency (ADA)

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