Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

16th March 2017 Vienna, Austria

Where is Europe’s largest motorcycle maker based?

Which is the most important economic powerhouse in Austria?

Amongst the nine Austrian provinces, Vienna has the largest population, followed by Lower Austria and Upper Austria. But more international exports come from Upper Austria than from any other Austrian province.

So when I visited Upper Austria recently, my first stop was at Europe’s biggest motor cycle manufacturer.  Guess who?

Interestingly, if you count down the top five motorcycle firms in Europe, you find Triumph (based in the UK) at number five; BMW (Germany) at four; and Piaggio and Ducati (both Italy) at three and two.

The biggest-selling motorcycle company in Europe is KTM, based in Mattighofen west of Linz.  I toured their ultra-modern factory and discussed with the management recent strong economic growth statistics from the UK, some recent examples of big international companies investing in the UK, and what makes the UK Europe’s number one destination for foreign direct investment.

Incidentally, rider Sam Sunderland became the first Brit to win the Dakar Rally in January this year, riding a KTM 450 Rally Factory Edition.  He was sponsored by Austrian company Red Bull.

Even in Austria, visits do not always go to plan, and our plans for lunch at the famous Leberkas-Pepi ended in catastrophe.

But we went on to have an excellent meeting with Landeshauptmann Dr. Josef Pühringer – a wide-ranging discussion of political and economic developments in Austria, the UK and Europe.

My next meeting was with the Mayor of Linz, Klaus Luger, in the town hall on Linz’s attractive central square.  Our discussions included the role of Linz as a manufacturing centre (Austrian steel-maker Voestalpine, who I shall be visiting separately soon, is based there) and integration of migrants.

I then called on the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, who surprised me not only with their in-depth knowledge of political and economic developments in the UK, but also with a startling pair of Union Jacks socks, worn by foreign policy editor Clemens Schuhmann.

I am consistently struck by the quality of regional media in Austria and the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten was no exception.

Finally, we called briefly at “Lentos” – a museum of modern art on the banks of the Danube.  I was impressed by their collection, as well as by the display spaces – one of the best modern art museums I have seen in Austria.

So which of Austria’s provinces is its biggest powerhouse?

Well, given a choice between Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria and indeed the next most populous region, Steiermark, which I have yet to visit, I can only quote Oscar Wilde: “Comparisons are odious”.

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.

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