High Level Event on the Sahel, Statement by H.E. Michael Spindelegger Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me thank you, Mr. Undersecretary-General, for convening this timely meeting. Austria concurs with you that the situation in the Sahel region merits the full attention of the international community.
The transnational nature of the challenges faced illustrates the interdependence of the Sahel region with the wider Africa. A comprehensive approach – taking into account the underlying causes of the conflicts – is a precondition to address the current situation and to achieve lasting peace and stability. Together with strengthening the rule of law, good governance, democratisation, fighting terrorism and transnational organized crime and guaranteeing the respect for human rights, peace and stability are the very basis for the sustainable development that the region so urgently needs.
We therefore welcome and encourage the Secretary-General’s efforts to develop an integrated strategy for the Sahel. Any such strategy must make maximum use of the comparative advantages of regional organizations like ECOWAS and the African Union and will only be successful if all international actors coordinate closely. The regional ownership of such a process will be of utmost importance. The United Nations will also have to play a crucial role in this respect and should make maximum use of existing UN structures in the region. In the coming weeks, the European Union will discuss how to best contribute to this joint undertaking. Rest assured that Austria will advocate for the strongest possible support to the Sahel.
Apart from the common structural challenges, the current humanitarian crisis must be addressed. Be it by participating in the European Union’s humanitarian assistance to the Sahel or bilaterally, Austria has been engaged for many decades in the region and stands ready to expand this support considerably.
Thank you very much for your attention.