Vienna, 15 November 2005 - "The Three-Year Programme for 2005-2007 adopted today in the Ministerial Council calls for a significantly greater effort by Austria in the coming years in the field of development cooperation. In 2005 and 2006 the EU-wide Barcelona target of 0.33 percent of the gross national income (GNI) for development assistance was already well exceeded. The fight against global poverty, the promotion of peace, and support for women and marginal groups in society in the developing countries is a foreign policy issue of the utmost importance to me," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.
Plassnik also thanked the Austrian non-governmental organisations for their commitment and demonstrated cooperation. "The Austrian NGOs and also the numerous associations and private initiatives are important partners in the fight against global poverty. With idealism and a professional approach we can work together to help our partners in the developing countries to achieve considerable progress," said the Foreign Minister.
The Three-Year Programme for 2005-2007 takes full account of the international targets and strategic orientations of the United Nations, European Union and international financial institutions. "It is important for me that the international community’s programmes and targets are well coordinated and harmonised. The UN Millennium Goals guide us in this respect since they are a tangible and shared point of reference," said the Foreign Minister.
The least developed countries, particularly in Africa, are the main focus of Austrian development cooperation, with particular prominence being given to good governance, respect for human rights, conflict prevention and capacity building.
"I attach particular importance to the promotion of women and girls. It starts with education. According to the UN, 500 million of the 780 million illiterate persons in the world are women. The provision of general primary school education for both sexes is thus a very specific Millennium Goal, and one of considerable importance. Women also play a vital role in conflict management and reconstruction. Their practical daily experience puts them in the best position to know what their societies need. The increased involvement of women in the political decision-making processes is therefore an important thrust in Austrian development cooperation," said the Foreign Minister.
Plassnik also pointed out that in line with the EU roadmap, Austria would be increasing the resources devoted to development assistance to 0.51 percent of the GNI by 2010 and that it would reach the UN target of 0.7 percent of the GNI by 2015. "This means that Austria will more than double the resources earmarked for development cooperation by 2010," concluded Foreign Minister Plassnik.