Luxemburg, 27. May 2005 Press release

Plassnik: Austria and Nicaragua – effective cooperation in the fight against poverty

27.05.2005

Minister for Foreign Affairs meets Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Caldera Cardenal

Luxembourg, 27 May 2005 - "Austria and Nicaragua are working together effectively to combat poverty", said Minister for Foreign Affairs Ursula Plassnik after her talks with the Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Norman Caldera Cardenal on the margins of the EU-Latin America Ministerial Meeting in Luxembourg.

Besides political issues such as the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit to be held in Vienna in May 2006, the talks focussed in particular on Austria's development cooperation with Nicaragua. Since 1986 Austria has been engaged in projects to alleviate poverty and promote economic development in Latin America's second poorest country. Austria's support is primarily concentrated on the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, the modernisation of the healthcare and education systems, the improvement of agriculture and the protection of natural resources. "With her expertise in these areas, Austria can make an effective contribution to improving the living conditions in Nicaragua", said Plassnik.

In a nature conservation area in the south of Nicaragua an Austrian project is training farmers in the organic cultivation of cocoa beans and cinnamon, with the simultaneous objectives of increasing the farmers' yields and income and putting a stop to the common practice of clearing the rainforest by burning. In several municipalities in the eastern part of the country Austria is promoting the development of small businesses, both through direct funding and by developing markets for their products and services.

Plassnik emphasised that Nicaragua's new National Development Plan provides the correct framework conditions for targeted measures to reduce poverty. "On this basis Austria can continue her commitment in a focussed manner", said the Foreign Minister. Austrian aid to Nicaragua amounted to around four million euros last year.