Wien, 18. December 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Austria’s humanitarian ambassadors in Bosnia and Herzegovina"

18.12.2006

Foreign Minister honours personal commitment of Annemarie Kury, Professor Dr. Martin Salzer and Professor Dr. Gregor Wollenek

Vienna, 18 December 2006 - "Committed people can transmit the message that a better future for the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina is an important issue for the Austrians and that they are prepared to dedicate themselves to this goal in a very immediate and tangible way," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the occasion of the bestowal of Austria’s Decoration of Merit in Gold on Annemarie Kury and the Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria on Prof. Martin Salzer and Prof. Gregor Wollenek, who were honoured today at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for their dedicated work in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"It gives me particular pleasure to ask those people to step up whose personal commitment makes an important contribution to forging ever closer bonds between our two countries at the level that counts most, namely that of interpersonal relationships. Through their compassion and commitment Annemarie Kury, Prof. Martin Salzer and Prof. Gregor Wollenek have instilled special human warmth into the relations between Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina," said Plassnik.

"By virtue of their great personal dedication all three of them can justly be called "Austria’s humanitarian ambassadors". Their deeply human commitment is part of what I mean by "concrete foreign policy" and practical good neighbourliness. By honouring them we also pay tribute to a number of private initiatives which bring our relations to life. But at the same time they also demonstrate how much reconstruction work is still ahead of us," continued Plassnik.

"Since the beginning of the crisis in the Balkans Annemarie Kury has been driving around the region with her car packed with aid supplies to mitigate the suffering of the afflicted people," emphasised the Foreign Minister. Since her first spontaneous humane reaction to TV reports about the people’s need in the region Mrs. Kury had meanwhile delivered around 160 aid transports designed to give practical assistance to people in need, often at personal risk to herself, Plassnik added.

"For more than ten years, the surgery carried out by the internationally renowned orthopaedist Prof. Salzer has been opening up the prospect of a new life for hundreds of people," continued the Foreign Minister. Professor Salzer had also helped to improve the medical care for the disabled and had committed himself to the development of a state-financed care system for disabled people, emphasised Plassnik.

Prof. Wollenek’s campaign put the motto "Helping people to help themselves" into practice. Under his supervision and aided by a team of expert volunteers, Bosnian physicians receive basic and further training which provides long-term support for the Bosnian health system. "Thanks to the development of a children’s cardiac surgery unit in Sarajevo it has become possible to help afflicted children from all ethnic groups swiftly and on the spot. For Professor Wollenek, helping is a concern that is close to his heart in the truest sense of the word," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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