National Day Message by H. E. Mrs. Andrea Wicke, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Austria to the Republic of Bulgaria

October 26th marks Austria’s national holiday since 1965. On this day, Austria commemorates its Declaration of Neutrality, which was enacted as a constitutional law by parliament on 26th of October 1955. This law holds special significance for the country because, after two lost world wars, it precludes Austria from waging wars abroad. The day is also seen connected to Austria's regaining its sovereignty after the last foreign troops left its territory around this date. Nowadays, the national day is celebrated by concerts, offering guided tours through the buildings of the federal ministries and a presentation of the armed forces' vehicles and equipment.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, national celebrations are being adapted since life in Austria continues to be strongly influenced by the pandemic. Still, Austria has come a long way in the last 18 months in its efforts to fight COVID-19 and its economic consequences. Nearly three-quarters of its inoculable population have been vaccinated and the national economy bounces back. The GDP for the second quarter of 2021 is up by 12,8% compared to the same period 2020 and the overall economy is expected to grow by 4,4% in 2021.

The Austrian-Bulgarian diplomatic cooperation started 142 years ago when Austria-Hungary was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with newly independent Bulgaria in 1879. Fast forward to 2021, bilateral relations between our two countries are excellent and also survived the global pandemic unscathed, as evidenced by a working visit of Bulgarian President Radev in Salzburg in July 2021 to meet Austrian President Van der Bellen and a visit of Austrian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Launsky-Tieffenthal to Sofia, where he met with Vice Prime Minister Pekanov, his Bulgarian counterpart Alexandrov and participated in the 3 Seas Initiative summit. Both Austria and Bulgaria strongly advocate an EU accession of the countries of the Western Balkans. In order to help those countries during the pandemic and send a signal of partnership, Austria coordinated the EU vaccine donations for the Western Balkans in spring and summer 2021.

Bulgaria and Austria share a strong bond in the economic realm as well, with Austria being the second-largest foreign investor in Bulgaria. Austrian companies operate in diverse fields like banking, insurance, telecommunications, grocery retail and the construction sector, thereby creating more than 20 000 jobs in the country. Like with many other countries, the bilateral trade volume in 2020 plunged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to catalyze an economic recovery, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently launched the global “ReFocus Austria” project. This program aims to facilitate the outreach of Austrian companies to their international partners and will be a stepping stone in the continuation of the mutually fruitful economic cooperation between Austria and Bulgaria.

In the cultural sphere Bulgarians and Austrians look back on a long tradition of exchange and close collaboration between their countries. Currently, the cultural cooperation is guided by a cooperation agreement from 2015, in which the focal points of educational staff exchange, artist communication and common efforts in the preservation of monuments were set out. Facilitating the cultural dialogue in the field of contemporary art is one of the main priorities of the Austrian embassy in Sofia. The flagship project of these efforts are the Austrian Music Weeks (AMW), an annual series of concerts in different Bulgarian cities, that celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2021. Another testimony of the excellent Austrian-Bulgarian cultural cooperation is FLUCA, a cultural pavilion in Plovdiv, which regularly hosts contemporary art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events. In the field of scientific cooperation a recently held Austrian-Bulgarian Joint Commission agreed to finance the mobility costs of nine cooperation projects in the period 2021 to 2023.

To celebrate the national day together with the Austrian Embassy, you can visit the Facebook page of the Austrian Embassy Sofia ( on October 26th and watch a mini-concert of Austrian musicians.

The photo was provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Austria in the Republic of  Bulgaria. On it: H. E. Mrs. Andrea Wicke, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Austria to the Republic of Bulgaria