Press Releases

Rishi Sunak – 2024 Comments in Austria

The comments made by Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, in Austria on 21 May 2024.

Chancellor Nehammer, Karl. it’s so wonderful to be here in Austria, especially after our very warm meeting we had together last year where, as you say, we built a very strong friendship and a partnership.

And it has been good to continue that dialogue with you this morning.

And Austria is an important partner and an important friend for the United Kingdom.

Last year we signed new bilateral agreements…

…to build that partnership, to strengthen our security and to tackle illegal migration.

We grew our bilateral trade to £10 billion last year.

And today we’ve taken steps to deepen that relationship even further.

Now as Karl mentioned we see eye-to-eye on many of the big challenges before us.

And we’re committed to addressing them together.

We’re unwavering in our support for Ukraine.

Austria has rightly called out Russia for breaking international law…

…expelled Russian diplomats…

…and given vital humanitarian support to the Ukrainian people.

And now, we’ve discussed what more we can do together on the economic front to ensure that Russia’s war machine is not supported.

Now we’ve also discussed, as you heard, the Middle East…

…where we’ve been working closely together already to urgently get the aid in and get the hostages out.

We touched on our concerns in the Western Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina…

…and the work that both our nations are doing to preserve stability in the region.

And again, I very much welcome Austria’s leadership in this area and I’m grateful to all the engagement that Karl has put into that part of our continent.

And of course, in conclusion, we discussed illegal migration.

This has become truly one of the defining issues of our time.

We face criminal gangs that are growing in strength across our European continent and beyond, and they’re exacting a terrible human toll.

People are losing their lives as they are exploited by these criminal gangs.

And it is of course a threat to our stability, to the rule of law – and rightly our citizens are demanding that their leaders, their politicians, tackle it.

And that’s what both Karl and I are doing.

And I really do want to congratulate Karl on his leadership here because he’s been right on this issue for a long time, and has led the charge in Europe, in making sure this is a topic that gets the attention that it deserves.

In our joint statement today we have committed to deepening our cooperation to end this vile trade.

And what both of us have agreed is that business as usual won’t solve this problem.

We have to think creatively…

We have to pursue new ideas, solutions, and deterrents – removals to safe third countries – like the UK’s pioneering Rwanda scheme.

And as Karl said, it’s increasingly clear that many other countries now agree that that is the approach that is required: bold, novel, looking at safe country partnerships.

Karl was right on that a while ago and I’m delighted that now 15 European countries together have joined in supporting that position.

So we will keep increasing our shared ambition and urgency, bringing others along with us on the journey as we have…

…including when we meet at the European Political Community, which I am proud to be hosting in Blenheim Palace in July.

That will be a moment to take further action on all of the issues we’ve been discussing today.

And I’ll close on this last point.

As you know, there is an interesting echo of history here.

Because Blenheim Palace is named after the Battle of Blenheim in 1704…

…when Britain and Austria came together under the Grand Alliance to protect Vienna.

Now, the circumstances are somewhat different today…

…but it is a reminder that our relationship, our friendship, our partnership, has deep roots.

And today’s discussions show that it also has a very bright future.

Karl, thank you very much.