European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) shakes hands with Austria's new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz during their meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Dec. 19, 2017. Austria's new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Tuesday reaffirmed his government's pro-European stance in his first official trip to Brussels, in an attempt to dispel concerns over the line-up of his government. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
BRUSSELS, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Austria's new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Tuesday reaffirmed his government's pro-European stance in his first official trip to Brussels, in an attempt to dispel concerns over the line-up of his government.
Speaking at a joint press conference with European Commission President Jean Claude-Juncker and EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations following their meeting, Kurz stressed that Austria is a pro-European country.
"We want to make contribution to a strong European Union. We are looking forward to that, "said the 31-year-old Kurz, the youngest leader in Europe.
For his part, Juncker said Kurz's first visit to EU institutions "sent a positive signal."
"This government has a clear pro-European stance, it's most important to me," Juncker said.
He also clarified that it was the EU's 14 member states rather than EU institutions which slapped sanctions against Austria in 2000, when the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) first entered the government.
Kurz's meeting with Juncker came on the heels of a "good meeting" with European Council President Donald Tusk, during which the young leader, as he tweeted, " reaffirmed the Austrian government's pro-European position & its full commitment to further developing the EU."
"Looking forward to closely cooperating on the upcoming Austrian EU Presidency in 2018," he added.
Tusk also hailed their meeting, tweeting, "very positive and constructive discussion with Chancellor @sebastiankurz. I see in him an energetic, determined and pro-European leader."
Kurz is set to meet European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday.
Austria's new coalition government, headed by Kurz, the leader of the conservative People's Party (OVP) , was sworn in on Monday, amid protests concerning its right-wing leanings.
Coalition partner, the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), has seen a return to power, following protracted negotiations with the OVP after the Oct. 15 election. Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache is new vice-chancellor.
Tusk on Monday sent a letter of congratulation to Kurz, saying, "I trust that the new government will continue to play a constructive and pro-European role in the EU."
Austria is set to take over the EU's rotating presidency in the second half of 2018.