Wien, 15. November 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Encouraging the encouragers"

15.11.2007

Foreign Minister Plassnik attends event organized in support of women on the Balkans

Vienna, 15 November 2007 - "You cannot change geography. Serbs and Kosovars will remain neighbours, regardless of how the Kosovo status problem will be solved. Only when they focus on our common future in the EU and with our strong support will they be able to reach a new, European quality of neighbourly relations", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today at a dinner given in support of projects by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in South East Europe at the invitation of National Council President Barbara Prammer.

"Especially during this decisive phase, we must support both sides as well as we can. We must create and expand resilient networks of good neighbourliness. Women can make a valuable contribution to this. With their help, we can further advance the European peace project, not only in the family and in social settings, but also in public positions and during difficult political phases. We women must encourage the encouragers - even in foreign policy", said Plassnik. For this reason, Austria supports UNIFEM in its work toward strengthening women in South East Europe, especially in fighting violence against women, and in developing networks between parliamentarians and representatives of the civil society in the region.

"Our society needs the strength of women. I want to draw attention to this fact in my work on both the national and the international level. I cannot repeat it often enough: Women account for 50 percent of the potential, the creativity, and the talent of every society. It would be a waste of resources and unwise not to actively use this potential", said Plassnik.

In this field, Ursula Plassnik has organized the symposium "Muslim Youth and Women in the West" in Salzburg, the international Women's Conference on the Middle East, and a symposium of Serbian and Kosovar women in Vienna, in this year alone. During her visits to Egypt and Burkina Faso, she met with women who hold important positions in these regions. "I want to use these international women’s networks in particular to make the contribution of women in peace processes and in all areas of reconstruction more visible. Women must be involved in peace processes more directly. To achieve this, they must really be able to contribute their views at the negotiating table", said Plassnik.

The international women’s networks can already point out to a series of concrete achievements: For instance, in spring 2007 a check list was created for women’s issues in EU peace operations. For the first time in several years, a woman was assigned head of a UN mission, and several women were nominated Deputy UN Special Envoy.

In Austria, a national action plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 aiming at a greater involvement of women in peace processes was adopted by the Federal Government.

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