Austria in briefElisabeth Bertagnoli
Austrian Ambassador to Korea
Ambassador Elisabeth Bertagnoli has been at the Austrian Embassy in Seoul since October 2013.
She studied law and worked at the University of Salzburg's International Law Institute. She then joined the Austrian Foreign Service and served in the International Legal Department dealing especially with human rights.
She has had different assignments abroad, including Deputy Head of Mission of the Austrian Embassy in Belgium and head of the Political Department in the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Austria to the E.U. Before her post in the Republic of Korea, she was deputy director of the traditional Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.
Bertagnoli is one of the few female ambassadors in Seoul. For her, cultural and food diplomacy are very important people-to-people forms of contact, next to traditional diplomacy. Fascinated by the beauty of Korea and kindness of its people, Bertagnoli tries to interact with locals as much as possible.
Austria in brief
Major cities: Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz, Klagenfurt
Official Language: German
Religion: Christianity is predominant religion (70% Roman Catholic)
Area: 32,386 square miles
Korea and Austria have maintained strong ties since as far back as the late 19th century. The two countries signed a bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1892 and established diplomatic relations in 1963. Many Koreans, especially musicians, went to Austria for higher education after the 1950-53 Korean War. Austrians were involved in the construction of tunnels, power plants and bridges here. Another important element in bilateral relations: the spouse of former President Rhee Syng-man was Franziska Donner, an Austrian.
Korea is Austria’s third-largest trading partner in Asia, with exports from Austria to Korea reaching 840 million euros ($948 million) last year and imports totaling 772 million euros. The main Austrian exports are transport equipment, automotive goods, semiconductor components and devices, electronics, special fibers, ski-lifts, crystal, pork, beer and manufacturing equipment made out of iron, steel and metal.
Austrian investments in Korea are roughly 1 billion euros. Some 60 Austrian companies are active in Korea. The free trade agreement between the European Union and Korea entered into force in 2011, and has proven very favorable for trade flows between the two countries. Austria has been a member of the E.U. since 1995.