New York, 28 September 2007 - On 26 September, the Day of Austrians in the US, the Austrian Consul General in New York, Brigitte Blaha, organised a reception for the Austrian community which was attended by Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik. "No matter what your relationship to Austria - as a national, as a friend, as a person who is an Austrian at heart - you are co-designers of the brand 'Austria' in the world at large. Your contribution is irreplaceable. For this, I would like to thank you today and invite you to continue your successful work," stated the Foreign Minister.
"I personally do not particularly like the expression 'Austrians living abroad'. An Austrian is an Austrian, it’s not a question of at home or abroad. I would prefer the term 'Austrians in the world'," said the Foreign Minister.
"As the member of government that is responsible for Austrians living abroad it is of special concern to me to ensure that the services offered to you are as effective as possible. This mainly includes the provision of information and your participation in the democratic processes at home. With our new website www.aoe-ratgeber.at we have created an additional info product," continued the Foreign Minister.
"With the electoral reform which entered into force on 1 July, casting one’s vote abroad has become a lot easier," stated Plassnik. "Until now Austrians have had to have their vote witnessed by a notary public or another Austrian citizen. In future it will be sufficient to apply for the ballot card, fill it in and mail it back to Austria. This will allow genuine postal voting," said the Foreign Minister.
Another obstacle for Austrians abroad had been their automatic deletion from the electoral register after 10 years. As a result, many Austrians abroad have been unable to apply for ballot cards in the past. "This obstacle, too, is now being removed. Deletions from the electoral register will only be possible with the consent of the person concerned," said the Foreign Minister.
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