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Minister Židan in a Conference on the Future of Rural Areas

Wildschönau, Austria, 12th May 2014 – Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Dejan Židan attended the international conference “Rural Areas Have a Future” in Tyrol where he participated in the third panel discussion on “Cross-Regional Cooperation”.

In his address, Minister Židan underlined that Slovenia and Austria are neighbours who know each other and collaborate very well. He said the accession to the EU 10 years ago was successful also due to the fact that Slovenia has had good friends. The current Austrian Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management Rupprechter as well as former ministers and colleagues helped Slovenia so that it was well-prepared for the accession and benefited from it. Minister said that half of Slovenian municipalities are located in the so-called border area while half of all the country’s citizens live in the countryside. Cross-regional cooperation is therefore vital for Slovenia; so are the countryside and programme for its development. “We started carrying out cross-regional collaboration projects already in 1994 with the first programme including the neighbouring Italy. Next year it was followed by programmes with Austria and Hungary, and after the EU accession in 2004 also a programme with Croatia,” said Židan. The project funds have grown relatively quickly during the years. “At the moment the majority of our projects involve Austria. Among the most important cross-border collaboration projects are those that involve environment and natural resources protection. Important are also those which bring people together, and those that enable the development of tourism and economy,” stated Minister Židan. “I wish for more projects with a direct effect on agriculture.”

He then stressed that at the moment Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment focus is particularly on the climate change adaptation. Židan said that according to some estimations Europe suffers a 80–90 € damage yearly due to climate change and rural areas are hit the most. Therefore projects dealing with climate change are of vital importance. Due to the nature of climate change, these cannot involve only a particular country, but require a cross-regional and even broader collaboration. “I thus expect that the majority of collaboration, also within rural development, will take place in the field of encouraging adaptation to climate change,” emphasized Minister Židan.

The conference was attended by agricultural ministers from Austria, Germany, Cyprus and Slovenia, deputy minister from Bulgaria, former Austrian agricultural ministers, former Commissioner for Agriculture Franz Fischler, high representatives of the European Commission and European Parliament, representatives of international research and other institutions, high representatives of Austrian federal states, Austrian farmers and other distinguished guests.


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