Wien, 30. August 2005 Press release

Austria actively supports peace initiative in Aceh

30.08.2005

Austrian participation in the EU observer mission

Vienna, 30 August 2005 - The Federal Government today passed a resolution approving Austrian participation in the EU monitoring mission to Aceh. The plan presently calls for the participation of some 220 international and unarmed experts in a civilian monitoring mission starting on 15 September 2005. Preparations for the deployment of two Austrian observers as of mid-September are currently underway.

"I regard the signing of the peace treaty between the Indonesian Government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on 15 August as a great opportunity to finally put an end to the conflict," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik. "But without monitoring by impartial observers such as the European Union, it is barely conceivable that the treaty will be successfully implemented."

The observer mission and its Austrian members will have the task of monitoring implementation of the peace treaty and the observance of human rights. It will also provide assistance in the process of reintegrating GAM fighters into civil society.

The decision to dispatch the EU mission came in response to an express request by both former parties to the conflict. Political support and manpower will also be provided by neighbouring Asian states.

The conflict in Aceh (northern Sumatra) has cost an estimated 12,000 lives since 1976 and its settlement will considerably facilitate reconstruction in this region, which was one of the hardest hit by the tsunami disaster. Austria has already provided assistance to Aceh after the tsunami and is now offering its support in its peace efforts.