Jigmi Wangdi

Austria opened its Honorary Consulate office in Thimphu yesterday. Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji, along with officials from Austria attended the inauguration.

The Austrian delegation led by the Ambassador of Austria to Bhutan, Katherina Wieser and the Austrian Development Agency’s Managing Director, Friedrich Stift also attended the event.

Ambassador Katherina Wieser said that the successful graduation of Bhutan from the LDC category has led to the end of the development cooperation.

“However, this does not mean we are leaving our relationship behind. On the contrary, we are just entering a new phase in our relationship with the inauguration of the consulate,” the Ambassador said.

The Ambassador added that the new relationship will focus on new sectors of economic engagement and business cooperation. “We will build on what we have established so far. We can also look towards carrying forward the cooperation we have in education and healthcare.”

The Ambassador said that it is now the work of the embassy located in New Delhi and the consulate in Thimphu to ensure cooperation in these fields is carried out. 

Friedrich Stift said that the Austrian Development Agency has been aiding Bhutan in the field of hydropower, vocational training, development of the judiciary system and the enhancement of education in tourism.

“We want to see more business entities from Austria invest in Bhutan and establish business partnerships,” Friedrich said. “We also want to develop cooperation between universities in the two countries.”

Friedrich said that there could also be a partnership between the two countries in developing the mining sector of Bhutan. “Austria has a history of excavating minerals and if there are opportunities, some Austrian companies may come into Bhutan.”

Karma Lotey is the Honorary Consul of Austria to Bhutan. He said that Austria has been a partner of Bhutan since 1970 in the area of developing Bhutan’s tourism.

“Today marks a big milestone for both countries. My efforts will be to strengthen the already existing relations in the interest of tourism, economic affairs, health and education sectors, etc.,” he said.

Austria and Bhutan established official diplomatic relations on May 8, 1989. However, informal relations between the two countries existed since the late 1960s.