Ferrero-Waldner receives Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi
Human rights situation in Iran at the centre of talks
Vienna, 10 September 2004 - On the occasion of the press conference following their meeting on 10 September 2004, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner called the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi a committed, courageous and tireless fighter for human rights.
The Austrian Foreign Minister congratulated Shirin Ebadi again for winning the Nobel Peace Prize 2003 and underlined the importance of the prize as a signal of recognition and support. "The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize 2003 to Ms. Ebadi was a signal of support not only for the reform movement in Iran, in which Ms. Ebadi plays a recognised role also due to her social commitment, but also for women and children in the whole world whose rights and concerns she puts at the centre of her work, and finally for all those to whom the dialogue between different cultures and religions has always been important", said Ferrero-Waldner.
The Foreign Minister considers the human rights situation in Iran to be very critical: "After the parliamentary elections in February 2004, many areas have even experienced deteriorations, and in this context the fate of reform-orientated journalists, students, lawyers and other intellectuals gives particular reason for concern, as the right to express one's opinion freely continues to be subjected to massive and in some cases even tighter restraints", stated Ferrero-Waldner.
According to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, there is a need for action especially in the judicial field. "I therefore talked to Ms. Ebadi specifically about possibilities for an intensified cooperation in the judicial field. Some essential progress has already been made due to Austrian support in the area of juvenile jurisdiction."
Austria attaches great importance to the EU-Iran Human Rights Dialogue that has been underway since December 2002. "We support the continuation of the dialogue, but at the same time we are making efforts to achieve a critical evaluation. Thus far, we have barely seen any measurable progress; the concrete human rights situation in Iran has not improved, as shocking incidents continue to show again and again", said the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
"During my talk with Ms. Ebadi on the current human rights situation in Iran I obtained important information for my future work as well, and I am grateful for this opportunity. To me it seems important now - and here I know myself to be in line with my EU colleagues - that we keep the communication channels open, on the one hand, while giving expression to the justified concerns and demands, on the other hand. And we urgently need to see some concrete progress."