Monday, September 9, 2013

Today in Innsbruck *

Ever since 2004, it has been a tradition for the heads of state of the German-speaking countries to meet up informally once a year to talk politics. German-speaking countries, however, does not mean all countries where German is an official language (Sorry Belgium and Luxembourg, you're out) but all countries where the majority of the population speaks German as a native language (Hi there, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, welcome to the club!)

After Germany in 2010, Liechtenstein in 2011 and Switzerland in 2012, it was Austria's turn to host the event this year and so president Heinz Fischer invited Swiss president Ueli Maurer, German president Joachim Gauck and Hereditary Prince Alois as Liechtenstein's representative to Innsbruck today. The main aim of the meeting was to talk different topics that are of special importance to the four neighbouring countries as well as to strengthen the existing relations. The key issues of this year's talks are the political situation of the member states of the European Union five years after the beginning of the financial crisis and the future of democracy in the European Union though they also talked about the current situation in Syria.

Photo: KHM/Strickner
Apart from serious political talks, the heads of states also did a bunch of fun things for which they were joined by their wives. Together they had lunch at the Imperial Hofburg in Innsbruck where the whole shebang also took place and after lunch the illustrious tour group viewed the Hofkirche (Imperial Church) which includes the cenotaph of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, the Golden Roof and the Bergiselschanze, one of the most famous ski jumping hills in the world. Hereditary Princess Sophie and the other first ladies also visited Schloss Ambras.

Pictures can be found at Bundesprä,, AFP, Getty Images and Daylife. A video is located at ORF.

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