As thousands of refugees last week attempted to cross Hungary's borders into Austria, the reported tales of desperation recalled an earlier life for Claudia Reinprecht, Vienna's top envoy in Hong Kong. In her formative years the diplomat witnessed a massive influx of East Germans after the Berlin Wall fell; as a human rights lawyer she processed cases of displaced people from Kosovo and Afghanistan; ahead of the outbreak of the bloody Syrian civil war, she travelled to Damascus while posted at the embassy in neighbouring Jordan. "All of them had heartbreaking stories," said Reinprecht, Austria's consul general to Hong Kong and Macau said. "There was a Bosnian lady who studied law and her husband had a logistics company. Still, they had to flee. Read more: Direct flights from Hong Kong to Vienna could take off next summer, Austrian envoy says "She was never demolished by the fact they lost their home lives. She said if she wanted to stay she shouldn't take any government money. She really worked any job she could find, and she was very creative in making sure she contributed something back to Austria." Austria might be a country that Hongkongers usually associate with fine arts. What is less well known here is a similarity shared between the two places: sizeable migrant populations. "Migration has always been part of our DNA," Reinprecht said. "You won't find a Viennese who does not have a Hungarian or Czech grandparent." She started her career as a lawyer and later changed course to diplomacy in 2004 two years before Austria was due to take over the presidency of the European Union. Coincidences, she said, brought her to different kinds of projects in the Austrian government, ranging from humanitarian law to economic diplomacy and even outer space policies, in the decade before she came to the city. Her rewarding stint as an attaché in Amman in 2007 and 2008 helped her overcome initial worries, such as personal safety. WATCH: 'Austria is more than just The Sound of Music and Mozart,' says Austria consul general to Hong Kong With 800 Austrians in the city, Hong Kong already has the largest Austrian community in China. She said closer cooperation with the mainland could offer an answer to Hong Kong's continued success, likening the arrangement to Austria's membership of the EU. "I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be that prosperous if it weren't for the opening up of the borders and the possibility to participate in the internal market of the EU," she said. Reinprecht's adjustment to life here, however, was not without hitches. Hong Kong's poor air quality was the first thing that struck her. "I have a quite small son and I was quite worried," she said, adding: "But we adapted very soon." Then came the complicated footbridge system in and around Central. "It took me more than 11/2 years to figure it out," she said. "I'm still actually quite lost when I go to IFC and nearby." Describing herself as a "diplomatic entrepreneur" - which, she explains, refers to someone who stays ahead of the game and talks to the wider public to convey her country's values - Reinprecht called on Hongkongers to look deeper into Austria than traditional preconceptions. "One part of my job would be to make everybody know that Austria, which is much associated with music and the arts, is more than just The Sound of Music and Mozart," she said. "We cherish our heritage, but we also want to show that we are a top-notch innovation leader that could be of interest to Hong Kong," the diplomat added.