Wien, 13. December 2005 Press release

Austrian diplomatic presence in Iraq during EU Presidency

13.12.2005

Gudrun Harrer to be special envoy to Baghdad

Vienna, 13 December 2005 - At today’s Ministerial Council, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik announced that Austria would have a diplomatic presence in Iraq during its EU Presidency.

"A secure, stable and unified Iraq is also in the interests of the European Union. For this reason the EU Member States participate actively to the best of their ability in the international efforts to support Iraq in its political and economic reconstruction," said Plassnik.

"Austria needs a diplomatic presence in Baghdad in order for it to fulfill its tasks within the framework of the EU Presidency; only then will we be in a position to cope with the tasks of the EU Presidency independently on the spot. For this reason I have appointed Gudrun Harrer as special envoy of Austria’s EU Presidency in Iraq," said the Foreign Minister.

The current head of the foreign policy department of the daily "Der Standard" is an expert in oriental studies, the author of books on Iraq and a lecturer in modern Arab history at the University of Vienna. "We are glad to have been able to recruit Gudrun Harrer, who is a recognised expert with wide-ranging personal contacts in the country and the region, for this delicate and important task," continued Plassnik.

Mrs. Harrer will be active in the "Green Zone", where the highest measure of security can be guaranteed.

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