As a consequence of the increasing geostrategic importance of Africa and the growing engagement of Austria and the international community, bilateral relations between Austria and the countries of the region south of the Sahara are gaining in intensity. Austria is committed to maintain and further develop the multifarious cooperation. As a member of the European Union and of the Security Council of the United Nations for the period 2009-2010 Austria actively promotes peace, security, stability, democracy and human rights. The year 2010 also marks the 50th anniversary of the first participation of Austria in a UN peacekeeping operation (1960 Congo).
Two thirds of the dossiers under discussion in the United Nations Security Council concern the African continent. These are primarily the crises in Sudan, the Great Lakes Region, West Africa or the Horn of Africa as well as peacekeeping missions.
Austria is taking part in the increasing activities of the United Nations and the EU in Africa: besides the support for the peace process in Burundi and Uganda, Austria has also participated in the EU Mission EUFOR and the following UN Mission MINURCAT in Chad/Central African Republic. Through this active participation, Austria has continued its humanitarian engagement and underlined the particular importance of the protection of the civilians in armed conflicts for Austria’s foreign policy. Based on an Austrian initiative and during the Austrian Presidency the United Nations Security Council has adopted Resolution 1894 for the protection of the civilians in armed conflicts.
The most important basis of the Austrian involvement in Africa is the Joint EU-Africa Strategy as well as the Action Plan 2008-10, both of which were adopted at the EU-Africa-Summit in Lisbon in December 2007. The strategy is the basis for a stronger and above all more equal cooperation on all levels between the EU and Africa. Alongside with the consolidation of the political and economic relations with the African states, the dialogue and the cooperation of Austria with the African Union as well as regional organisations is being strengthened and its institutional and personal build-up supported. Particular attention is being paid to the areas of conflict prevention and conflict resolution as well as energy, rule of law and economic development. To this regard, support is provided to states of the African sub-continent which have already made efforts in the area of political and human rights and can serve as role models for other African states.
Austria attaches great importance to the reform of the security sector and the holding of democratic elections. Austrian election observers have taken part in the EU election observation mission in Sudan in April 2010 and have monitored the parliamentary elections in Ethiopia in May 2010. Austrian election observers are also part of the EU election observation mission to monitor the presidential elections in Guinea in June 2010. Austria is taking part in the EU Mission EUSEC which is working on security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The visits of Federal President Heinz Fischer in Ethiopia and Mali in February 2008 and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in Ethiopia and Uganda in July 2009 as well as the visit of the President of the National Assembly Barbara Prammer in Namibia in February 2010 have underscored the current increased cooperation between Austria and the African partners. The visit of Federal President Heinz Fischer was the first visit of an Austrian head of state to countries south of the Sahara.
Austria has six embassies and permanent representations (Dakar, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Abuja, Harare and Pretoria) in sub-Saharan Africa in addition to six coordination offices for development cooperation (Ouagadougou, Praia, Dakar, Maputo, Kampala, Addis Ababa). Austrian Trade Commissions in Lagos and Johannesburg are seeking to develop the commercial relations between Austria and the African states south of the Sahara. On the European level, the negotiations on an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with West African states are expected to be completed during the year 2010. Trade barriers shall be abolished and the exchange of goods increased. The regional economic integration in Africa follows this logic and is contributing to the increase in investment flows in this geographic region.
With regard to development policy, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and Cap Verde are key countries of the Austrian development aid. Furthermore, scholarships offer young students from Africa the opportunity to study in Austria.
The FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the first to be organised on the African continent, will take place from the 11th of June to the 11th of July 2010. The host country is expecting approximately 400.000 visitors from all over the world. The Austrian representations in South Africa have taken measures to this effect in order to provide assistance and help to Austrian visitors, fans and tourists in cases of emergency. You may wish to consult South Africa Travel advice on this homepage for further useful information and links.
In light of this major event, numerous events in the areas of culture, education and sport are being organised. The initiative “Africa Ke Nako - Africa's time has come!” of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) has planned on this occasion a series of events and campaigns throughout Austria. The radio station Ö1 of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) has, in line with the initiative, decided to air more than 150 programmes covering African subjects.