Diplomacy: Bhutan has vast potential to serve as a role model for the world in diverse fields such as sustainable tourism and alternative energy in the region, according to the new Resident Representative (RR) of Austria to Bhutan Johannes Binder.

The RR said Bhutan has proven its potential in the context of sustainable environment policy and on making available and popular the broader socioeconomic and spiritual concept of GNH.

He said that he greatly appreciates Bhutan’s internationally aligned and “broad foreign policy”. “Bhutan’s foreign policy is similar to that of Austria. A small country could make an impact on the international level,” he said.

“I would not as a guest and Austrian representative here in your country, comment on the country’s foreign policy,” he added. The two countries have maintained excellent diplomatic relationship since 1989, as well as excellent Austrian-Bhutanese development partnership.

“We are looking forward to fostering these relations, maybe even enforce our inputs and achieve more outputs in the socio economic dimension with hindsight to sustainable development,” he said.

The year 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He said there are established networks between Austrian and Bhutanese vocational training institutes and universities.

The RR said that the two countries are in the process of strengthening collaboration between faculties of the universities and academic institutions of the two countries, especially in the field of law, construction and development.

“We believe that investment in education, job qualifications, know-how networks on various executive and judicial administrative levels will serve best the young democracy and the current and future generation in Bhutan,” he said.

He said that that Bhutan could gain much from exchanging experiences with Austria in socioeconomic and political terms. “Austria supports Bhutan in its processes towards democratization and a pluralistic society,” he said. “Judicial reform and also civil society development support are entry points for these processes.”

He added that rise in domestic agricultural products and their value chains could help Bhutan reduce imports and achieve higher level of self-sufficiency and food security.

He said: “We will invite Austrian Chamber of Commerce missions next year to Bhutan to explore other the fields of cooperation.”

MB Subba