New era dawning in Turkey-Austria relations

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's meeting with his Austrian counterpart in Vienna this Thursday is expected to leave crises between Turkey and Austria behind and turn a new page in relations.

Çavuşoğlu's official visit follows two years of tensions between the two countries. During his visit, he will also attend the opening ceremony of the Yunus Emre Institute (YEI) offices in Vienna and meet representatives of the local Turkish community, said a Foreign Ministry statement

Çavuşoğlu and Austria's Karin Kneissl are expected to exchange views on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues.

In a previous meeting in Ankara on Jan. 25, the two top diplomats pointed to "a new era" beginning in bilateral relations.

The two sides also agreed to normalize relations, hold more talks at the level of diplomats and officials, and boost economic and cultural ties.

They also vowed to revive the long-dormant Joint Economic Commission mechanism between the two countries.

Overcoming tensions

Çavuşoğlu last met in May 2016 with his Austrian counterpart, then-Foreign Minister and current Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, in Vienna, at a meeting of the International Syrian Support Group co-chaired by the U.S. and Russia.

The Austrian parliament's 2015 declaration that the events of 1915 were a so-called "genocide" and a 2016 demonstration in Vienna in favor of the terrorist PKK -- a group which has taken some 40,00 lives in Turkey -- served as breaking points in bilateral relations.

Turkey argues that the events of 1915 took place amid World War I, when some Armenians chose to side with invading Russians, and that there were casualties on both sides.

In the wake of the parliament's decision, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Vienna back to Ankara for consultations.

Ties between the two countries also soured in late 2016, due to Austrian restrictions on Turkish politicians who wanted to campaign in the country ahead of a key referendum in Turkey. The campaigns were directed at Turkish nationals living in Austria.

Ankara has also sharply criticized the Austrian government for illiberal integration policies, populistic rhetoric, and failure to take a strong stance against growing racism and Islamophobia.