TEHRAN — On July 31 some 100 Austrian and Iranian mountaineers together with a group of European ambassadors will jointly ascend the Mount Damavand, sending a strong signal that Europe and Iran will make good on their promises to engage in an ever-increasing number of sectors and areas, Stefan Scholz, Vienna’s ambassador to Tehran has said.
Scholz made the remarks on the occasion of the Damavand Anniversary Project 2018, here on Friday. The two-day event marked the 175th anniversary of the first Austrian ascent of Mount Damavand by the botanist and scholar Theodor Kotschy in 1843.
Austria is also celebrating other anniversaries this year in Iran, underlining many centuries of Austro-Iranian friendship including 160 years of full diplomatic relations, 500 years of partnership, 700 years of documented contacts as well as 60 years of Austrian Cultural Forum and 25 year of interreligious dialogue.
“Iran is more than a country, it’s a civilization in its own right and one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world,” the Austrian ambassador said.
“These assets present a great touristic potential which if diligently used can contribute to building a vibrant private sector based economy creating diversified employment opportunities in sectors like accommodation, food and beverage establishments, transportation services, travel agencies and tour operators for some one million young Iranians who are entering the labor market each year.
“Austria stands ready to partner in further developing Iran’s great tourism potentials in a sustainable way, protecting natural resources and supporting the life and culture of mountain populations. This new sector partnership is part of Austria’s bilateral contribution to preserving and maintaining the JCPOA by bringing concrete and measurable economic benefits to the Iranian people.”
Scholz further highlighted that on order to promote Iran’s great mountain riches also visually in Austria, a film team will also document the ascent of Mt. Damavand by the mountaineering legends Peter Habeler and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner.
“I am confident that this documentary will inspire many more Europeans to discover the wonders of Iran.”
Through this joint ascent “we should find new friends in east and west and go on to shape a common future.”
“Our joint ascent to the summit of Iran’s highest mountain will form a culture of togetherness and I wish with all of my heart that it may gain ground in our communities, in our countries and in the whole of Europe and the wider Middle East,” he concluded.
Elsewhere in his remarks ambassador Scholz explained that the two-day event will not only focus on trekking and mountain climbing but also on economic niche areas related to the Damavand such as mountain tourism, ecology and botany.
“I am very pleased to inform, that we already achieved three concrete results in terms of new partnerships,” he said, adding that the two mountain associations of Iran and Austria will create a joint Alpine training center, focusing on mountain climbing and rescue training.
“Moreover, four Austrian and Iranian Universities will jointly research medicinal herbs from the Alborz Mountains, as they are easier to obtain than modern pharmaceuticals and show astounding health benefits.
“And finally, another Austrian University is currently putting the final touches on a joint degree program on sustainable tourism and eco-tourism.”
The ceremonial opening of the symposium was held at Niavaran palace on Friday. The ceremony was attended by Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (CHHTO) Director Ali-Asghar Mounesan, CHHTO deputy director Mohammad-Hassan Talebian, President of Naturfreunde Austria Andreas Schieder and president of Iran Sport Climbing and Mountaineering Federation Reza Zarei.
On the second day of the symposium workshops, given by Austrian experts on the possibilities of sustainable tourism and environmental protection, were scheduled to be held.