Ferrero-Waldner meets Israel's Foreign Minister Shalom in Vienna:"A good day for both Austria and Israel"
Chapter of sanctions against Austria finally closed as of today
Vienna, 19 November 2003 - "This is no ordinary visit of an Israeli Foreign Minister to Austria. Today, with this visit, we are finally closing the chapter of sanctions against Austria", stressed Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner at the joint press conference following her bilateral working meeting with her Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom.
"The best prerequisites have now been recreated for the reshaping and intensification of Austria's friendly relations with Israel. Foreign Minister Shalom and I have discussed a number of initiatives that we want to develop in the spirit of this renewed cooperation, particularly in the fields of business and culture", stated Ferrero-Waldner. "A matter of special importance to me in this context are the events planned in Austria this coming year to mark the hundredth anniversary of the death of Theodor Herzl. Theodor Herzl is an important link between Austria and Israel, and Foreign Minister Shalom and myself both wish to lend our active support to these events."
The Minister for Foreign Affairs went on to point out that the potential for trade and economic exchange between the two countries still falls very short of potential, thus an exchange of visits by the relevant members of government accompanied by business delegations was in the pipeline in order to strengthen the mutual interests of companies in Austria and Israel. In this context the Foreign Minister gave special mention to the planned visit to Israel by the President of the Austrian Economic Chamber, Christoph Leitl, at the beginning of next year. "We also intend to intensify the exchange of visits and events in the cultural field, and State Secretary Fritz Morak already took the first steps in this direction during his visit to Israel some weeks ago", continued the Foreign Minister.
Referring to the situation in the Middle East, Ferrero-Waldner emphasised that Europe and the Europeans were not only highly interested in a settlement as direct neighbours of the conflict, but were also aware of their historical and moral responsibility. "Because of our history we Europeans have developed sensibilities that we must now bring to bear. We live on a continent consisting of small geographic entities, with many languages and many peoples. We are no strangers to minority conflicts. We therefore ought to contribute the experiences and positive results we have achieved in resolving such conflicts - not only in the Palestine conflict, but throughout the entire Islamic world."
Following their joint press conference the two Foreign Ministers laid wreaths at the Albertina Memorial and the Holocaust commemorative site on Vienna's Judenplatz.