Vienna, 14 May 2005 - "As Minister for International Development it is important to me that Austria also makes available more money for combating poverty, hunger and disease, thus contributing to the achievement of an EU-wide agreement aimed at fulfilling the United Nations Millennium Development Goals“, stated Minister for Foreign Affairs Ursula Plassnik on Saturday.
The Foreign Minister emphasised that by securing a further increase in the development cooperation contributions, major impulses can be set at national and European level towards hastening the elimination of poverty, hunger and disease within the framework of the so-called Millennium Development Goals agreed by the United Nations, particularly against the backdrop of the ongoing discussions on the reform of the United Nations with their thematic focus on security and development. The 5-year review of progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals will be carried out at this year's UN General Assembly in September.
Foreign Minister Plassnik expressed her pleasure that Austria had succeeded in paving the way for making available at least 0.51% of gross national income (GNI) for development aid from 2009 within the context of an internal EU agreement: "Our efforts aimed at securing a substantial increase in European development cooperation funding have proved successful. The roadmap is spot on: with 0.51% of GNI by 2009 the EU has set itself a reasonable and feasible target", said Plassnik.
"I am delighted that the Austrian federal government is continuing to steer a positive course with regard to development cooperation. As a result, Austria will step up her development cooperation funding still further. Moreover, with the establishment of the Austrian Development Agency we have created a professional implementation agency which will use the increased funding in an efficient and targeted manner for the benefit of the partner countries", the Foreign Minister continued.
Plassnik underlined the fact that the EU-wide initiative in support of the developing countries represents a further important step towards the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals, going on to point out that solidarity with the poor countries of the world is a concern close to the hearts of the Austrians, as recently and impressively demonstrated by their donations for the victims of the tsunami disaster.
According to the so-called Monterrey Goals, 0.33% of gross national income are to be earmarked for development cooperation. Already in 2005 and 2006 Austria will exceed these goals, thus making a significantly larger contribution to combating global poverty. Whereas 0.20 % und 0.25 % of GNI were contributed in 2003 and 2004 respectively, a total of Euro 1,072 m or 0.45 % of GNI have already been forecast for 2005.