Wien, 3. December 2004 Press release

Plassnik Welcomes Action Plan of the "2004 Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World"

03.12.2004

"Important and Ground-Breaking Step for a World-Wide Solution to the Problem of Landmines“

Vienna/Nairobi, 3 December 2004 - According to Foreign Minister Plassnik, the "Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World," the First Review Conference of the Ottawa Antipersonnel Mines Ban Convention, which closed under Austrian chairmanship in Nairobi today, was "a huge success."

"In the past 5 years since the Ottawa Convention took effect, enormous progress was made," Plassnik emphasised. 144 states had ratified the Convention, more than 37 million antipersonnel mines had been destroyed. However, there was "no reason to sound the all-clear signal because about 20,000 people continue to fall victim to landmines every year," warned the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The adoption of a concrete plan of action for the period 2005-2009 at the Nairobi Summit, which was closed today, would therefore be of great importance for the successful prosecution of the program regarding the fight against anti-personnel mines. "The action plan means a ground-breaking step for the solution of the mine problem in the upcoming years," emphasised Plassnik. The important thing would now be to attain "the most universal ratification of the Ottawa Convention possible." Numerous countries, including three permanent members of the UN Security Council, have not yet signed the Convention.

The Head of the Austrian Delegation to the Nairobi Summit, Dr. Peter Jankowitsch, a former Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, highlighted the significant progress which the Ottawa Convention meant for the international community and its endeavours for a mine-free world. He also described Austria’s contribution to fighting the curse of mines. Since 2000, the Austrian Mine Action Programme has supported mine clearance projects, "Mine Awareness Programmes" and programmes for the rehabilitation of mine victims run by highly reputed international organisations such as ICRC; UNICEF, UNDP and the Slovene "International Trust Fund", in the focus regions of south-eastern Europe and southern Africa (currently Mozambique). Austria has contributed roughly six million euro since 2001. Moreover, for the Review Conference, Austria initiated a concept of landmine-free regions. With the support of the European Union, Slovenia presented the concept for Bosnia and Herzegovina as a landmine-free region by 2009 at the Review Conference.

Foreign Minister Plassnik expressed her thanks to the chairman of the Nairobi Summit, Ambassador Dr. Wolfgang Petritsch, Austria’s permanent representative at the Office of the United Nations at Geneva, for his successful chairmanship. His nomination had been "in special recognition of the active role Austria plays in the fight against antipersonnel mines."