AUSTRIA: Keeping Austria on Washington’s radar screen
Austria’s new ambassador to Washington, Eva Nowotny, sees one of her main challenges as keeping her nation “on the radar screen” in the American capital.
Without any pressing bilateral issues to deal with, but with a host of cultural and business connections to foster and develop, Austria wants to maintain visibility, even though it is one of the world’s smaller nations.
Ambassador Nowotny was appointed to the post in September this year, after a four-year stint as Director General of European Integration and Economic Affairs at the Foreign Ministry in Vienna, before which she was Austria’s ambassador to France and Great Britain, in that order.
Having successfully dealt with the thorny issue of compensation for Jews used for slave labor during the Nazi era, a matter resolved finally last year, Austria enjoys “very good and very close relations” with the United States, the new envoy says.
But good relations can mean little public attention, and Austria would like attention drawn to its many positive attributes.
One way it has succeeded in this is through a very successful and extensive cultural program, organized by the embassy, including concerts, art exhibits and other events. These have not only featured the music of classical legends such as Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss; there was a jazz concert at the embassy on October 30.
“We have developed a Washington reputation,” Ambassador Nowotny says of the cultural program. “This is an Austrian trademark… an essential part of our image.”
But Austria has more to offer than art and musical performances. The new ambassador, who has a PhD in history and German from the University of Vienna, points out that her country has become an ideal base for international corporations doing business in Europe.
The fall of the Iron Curtain and the expansion of the European Union to include several former Central and East European nations mean that “Austria has moved from the fringes of West Europe to the very center.”
Evidence of this shift is in the many American companies that have chosen Vienna as their base for operations in Central Europe and beyond, as well as the commercial development of the once neglected eastern part of Austria, along the borders with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.
No longer being a state on the front lines of the East-West divide has greatly increased security in the country, but Austria continues to have a lot to offer America in the area of maintaining border security. The ambassador points out that border security was something it dealt with for decades during the era of communist threats from the East, but now has to use to control drug and people trafficking from Southeast Europe.
Austria’s new centrality has resulted in “an explosion” in its commercial relations with countries in the region, where it is one of the leading investors. And the experience of Austrian companies doing business in places like Hungary and Slovakia makes them ideal partners for American companies entering those markets for the first time.
The ambassador says that she and her husband, Thomas, a professor, “feel very connected to the United States,” where they have lived and worded extensively in the past. From 1978 to ’83 she was part of the Austrian delegation to the United Nations in New York.
“In that respect,” she says, being appointed to the Washington post “was a home-coming.”
For almost any diplomat, Washington represents the ultimate posting, and Ambassador Nowotny describes her assignment here, “a crowning moment.”
“I am extremely happy to be here,” she says. “I feel very much at home.”
CV of Mrs. Eva Nowotny, Ph.D
to the United States of America
3524 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008-3027
Born: February 17, 1944 in Vienna, Austria
Married: Prof. Thomas Nowotny
1962 Degree: "Matura"
Primary and Secondary Education in Vienna
University of Vienna
Faculty of Philosophy
Ph.D in History and German (April 1968)
Dissertation: "Metternich and England"
University of Vienna
Entrance Exam, Austrian Foreign Service
Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Dept. of Press and Information, Division of Legal Affairs
Austrian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt
First Secretary, Cultural Institute
Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations in N.Y.
Vice-President of the Special Political Committee of the 36th
Austrian Federal Chancellery
Foreign Policy Adviser to the Federal Chancellor
Austrian Ambassador to France
Austrian Ambassador to the Court of St. James, United Kingdom
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Director General of European Integration and Economic Affairs
Sept. 22, 2003
Appointed Ambassador of Austria to the United States of America
Member of Board of Directors, Institute for East-West Studies, New York
Fellow at the Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies
Member of Board of Directors, Salzburg Seminar in American Studies
Member of Board of Directors, Vienna Institute for International Economic Research