Statement of the Federal Chancellor and Vice Chancellor on the UNDOF Mission
Today in the morning hours grave incidents occurred in the area of operation of the UNDOF mission on the Golan heights, in the course of which the Quneitra border post inside the demilitarised zone was temporarily captured by the Syrian rebels. After heavy fighting, it was later recaptured, for the time being, by units of the Syrian army. The Defence Ministry convened an immediate situation meeting with the General Staff and representatives of the Foreign Ministry.
“Subsequently the Defence Minister explained to us that after consulting with his department’s competent staff, the participation of the Austrian army in the UNDOF mission cannot be maintained any more for military reasons. The Defence Ministry’s observations have noted a sustained worsening of the situation on the ground”, stated Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger .
“Freedom of movement in the area de facto no longer exists. The uncontrolled and immediate danger to Austrian soldiers has risen to an unacceptable level. The developments this morning have shown that further delay is no longer justifiable. The secure movement and provisioning of our soldiers on the Golan heights cannot be assured any more. This prevents not only the regular re-supply of the mission, but also a larger troop rotation planned for next week”, added Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger.
Vice Chancellor Spindelegger has already spoken to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and informed him in person about the decision of the Federal government. The Defence Ministry is already in touch with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in order to create the conditions for an orderly withdrawal of the Austrian blue helmets.
“The safety of our soldiers is of first importance, making this step necessary”, concluded Federal Chancellor Faymann and Vice Chancellor Spindelegger.