Budget cuts force closure of Austrian Embassy

Muscat - 

Budget cuts imposed upon the Austrian Foreign Ministry in the wake of the financial crisis that swept through Europe has resulted in the closure of the embassy in Muscat, according to the outgoing envoy.

Austria will be without a resident Ambassador in Oman from Saturday for the first time in 22 years, after the opening of its embassy in 1989. The embassy will finally close at the end of July when the building lease expires. Key consular services such as visa processing have already been taken over by the Spanish Embassy, in a bilateral agreement between the two countries.

H E Andreas Karabaczek told Muscat Daily before his departure that he had been one among many people from diplomatic, business and other circles who had lobbied to keep the mission in existence. “I did my best to keep the embassy open, and was only one of the many who struggled hard to keep it. This is not something that happens very often. Very few Ambassadors ever have to close down an embassy.”

“The budget of the Austrian Foreign Ministry has been cut considerably in the last couple of years. The Austrian Embassy in Muscat was among the diplomatic missions which the ministry was forced to close. It is a handicap not to have an embassy, I am sure of that.”

Since arriving in Oman in 2005, H E Karabaczek said he had overseen a number of successes in the six years of heading the mission, including an increase in tourist numbers and a growth in bilateral investment.

“In spite of the setback brought about by the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, trade between our countries today is about 50 per cent higher than it was before I came here. We had a number of very successful visits by ministers, parliamentarians and businessmen in both directions.”

Despite his time in Oman coming to such an end, H E Karabaczek said the overriding memories of the country and its people were positive. “I cherish the time I have spent here and will always have fond memories of the people I made friends with in Muscat. I was overwhelmed by the goodwill people showed to me and towards Austria.”

H E Karabaczek’s next overseas posting begins early next year, in Indonesia. He will also continue to be the Non-resident Austrian Ambassador to Yemen until another diplomat is appo-inted in his place.

Officials at the Austrian trade mission in the UAE said a new embassy would shortly be opening in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

muscat daily recycle