Rede von Außenministerin Ursula Plassnik zu Festakt für Kofi Annan in der Wiener UNO City (english only!)
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Ceremony on the Naming of the Kofi Annan Building in the Vienna International Centre
Dear Director-General Antonio Maria Costa,
Dear Nane Annan,
Dear Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
Ladies and gentlemen!
Honouring a Nobel Peace laureate is a difficult task. Thus we are doing so today in Vienna in a very humble way but in a manner we hope expresses the closeness of the citizens to you, Secretary-General.
After a decade at the helm of the United Nations, you are leaving a remarkable track record:
- You sharpened our awareness for the challenges of the 21st century and for our responsibility in meeting them
- You were instrumental in reforming the UN and preparing the UN family of institutions to better face these new challenges
- The Millennium Development Goals set clear benchmarks for us all in the fight against poverty and in the quest for a more dignified life of humankind
- The creation of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council established two new important means to contribute to achieving the aims we have set ourselves for a more peaceful world
Your report "In Larger Freedom" and the endorsement of the report "Responsibility to protect" set the agenda of the international debate and you made sure that the debate was steered carefully, yet taking it forward decisively.
You have always put the individual human being at the centre of your work and this is what had a positive resonance around the world: Striving for every person - man, woman, child - to live in dignity, in freedom from want and in freedom from fear. Austria and the European Union as a whole deeply share this wide notion of human security.
This is why we have also continued to better equip the UN organisations in Vienna to meet these new challenges - in developing Vienna into a centre of competence for human security. And we will not tire in this joint effort of ours.
We also thank you for your support of the UN Headquarters in Vienna, the only one seated in the European Union. It is a fact: the European Union itself is the best example of effective multilateralism - and it is one of the most important partners of the UN:
- The EU contributes 38% to the UN’s regular budget, more than 40% to the budget for peace-keeping operations and more than 50% of the voluntary contributions to funds and programmes
- The EU provides for some 10.000 of the 83.000 UN peacekeepers in 20 missions worldwide
- And we have our own missions that complement the UN missions around the world, like Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, EUFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, or possibly soon a mission in Chad
There is also a commitment by the EU to take over the UN civil administration mission in Kosovo in the process of bringing forward a solution for the future status of Kosovo
Dear Kofi Annan, More than anything else, I believe, Austrians admire you, the person. As a role model for dignity and confidence, and I see many young people joining us here today who are expressing this by their very presence. A tireless encourager, despite the considerable obstacles you had to face so many times, despite the narrow margin of manoeuvre you often had. You have been and you are a soft spoken charismatic leader and you were and remain a living point of orientation for so many in this turbulent world.
A human being conscious of so many other human beings waiting for you to speak out, in your soft but firm voice, for those whose voices are not so strong and not so loud to be heard. To give your voice to the weak, the poor, the small, and those who feel lost or abandoned.
In short: A moral authority.
Today, at the Vienna headquarters of the UN-family, let me thank you and express the respect of the Austrian people for your achievements in making this world a fairer and a more hopeful place.