Waldner: “Mediation and dialogue are the tools of efficient crisis management”
Austrian State Secretary at top level meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York
New York, 23 May 2012 – “Mediation is an effective and efficient instrument for dealing with crises and preventing conflicts from escalating”, State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner said in his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York during a top level meeting on the role of the UN member states in mediation efforts. Numerous foreign minister and state secretaries took part in the debate that was chaired by Nassir Al-Nasser (Qatar), the President of the UN General Assembly.
Recent developments in Sierra Leone, Kirgizstan and Nepal, but in particular in Myanmar, clearly show the use and value of mediation as a means for promoting peaceful transition processes. The appointment of Kofi Annan as the Special Envoy for the crisis in Syria is an important example of a mediation process managed jointly by the UN and the Arab League. ”Despite the fact that the Annan plan is still facing significant difficulties and that the situation in Syria is unsettling in the extreme, there is quite simply no alternative to a political solution”, Waldner said.
Support for the United Nations in maintaining the world peace and international security have been priorities in Austrian foreign policy since the country regained its independence in 1955. ”In addition to our role as a long-term and reliable provider of troops for the UN peace-keeping operations and the UN headquarters in Vienna, Austria has given full support to, or initiated negotiation efforts from the start as an honest broker”, the State Secretary said. These activities range from good service in the Middle East during the 1970s and 80s, the intra-Timorese dialogue at Krumbach Castle in the 1990s through to the Western Sahara conciliation meeting in Dürnstein (2009) and meetings between representatives of Sudan and Southern Sudan.
“One focus of our commitment to peace and stability is in our own neighbourhood. The establishing of the International Civilian Office (ICO) for Kosovo was negotiated in Vienna. The ICO International Steering Group (ISG) first met in Vienna in February and a further ISG meeting is to be held at the Austrian Foreign Ministry on 2 July”, Waldner said. Austria has also offered to serve as a venue for the 5+2 discussions for the solving of the Transnistrian conflict within the scope of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and is to continue this commitment following the latest successful negotiations.
“I am convinced that the EU Foreign Policy Representative Catherine Ashton and her team of special representatives have a role in international mediation efforts. The participation of the EU in the Middle East quartet and in discussions with Iran clearly shows the value of an institution that speaks on behalf of 27 member states”, the State Secretary added.
“I also see our initiatives in the area of the dialogue of cultures and religions as a contribution to preventive diplomacy”, the State Secretary concluded, also referring in this context to the establishing of the International King Abdullah Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna and the Annual Forum of the UN ”Alliance of Civilisations” platform planned for 2013.
State Secretary Waldner discussed current developments in Syria and Libya with UN Under-Secretary-General (for political affairs) Lynn Pascoe on the sidelines of the UN meeting. Waldner also held working discussions with President of the General Assembly Al-Nasser and with Angela Kane (UN High Representative for Disarmament Issues), Susana Malcorra (head of the office of the UN Secretary General) und Catherine Bragg (Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator) and also with the Foreign Ministers Ahmet Davutoglu (Turkey), Ekki Tuomioja (Finland), Giulio Terzi di Sant´Agata (Italy), Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah (Qatar), Youssef Amrani (Morocco) and also with Deputy Foreign Minister Gonzalo de Benito Secades (Spain).
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