Wien, 10. October 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Protection of refugees and displaced persons - on clear terms"

10.10.2007

Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on Austria’s participation in EU mission in Chad

Vienna, 10 October 2007 " "The Darfur conflict has turned 2.5 million people into refugees, some 300,000 of whom are living in refugee camps in Chad and the Central African Republic. The human misery in Darfur can hardly be imagined. Humanitarian support and the protection of refugees, including those in the neighbouring regions, is urgently necessary," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today following the Council of Ministers’ meeting at which she, together with Minister of Defence Norbert Darabos, presented an interim report on the preparations for an EU mission in Chad and the Central African Republic. Austria will approve such a mission and participate in it.

The joint mission of the UN and the African Union that is being developed in Darfur will be complemented by a joint mission of the EU and the UN in Chad and the Central African Republic. "At EU level I made sure that the political framework for this mission was clearly formulated: it is clearly defined as a ‘bridging operation’ for a UN mission, which, in my opinion, will be required later, and its duration is limited to one year at the most. The EU and the UN will complement each other in their common work with the Chad authorities, without becoming partisan - in the interests of the many refugees and internally displaced persons," stated Plassnik. Thus the conditions had been finally met for approval of the Joint Action on the establishment of an EU mission by the EU Foreign Ministers’ Council next Monday.

Referring to the Austrian peace missions in the Balkans and the Middle East, which have been the priority regions so far, the Minister stated that "Austria is committed to active participation based on solidarity in Europe’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. However, for Austria participation will mean entering largely new territory in terms of both quantity and quality. The political and military preparations must therefore be carried out most carefully. Once they are completed, Minister of Defence Norbert Darabos and I will submit a proposal to the Federal Government on how Austria can make a reasonable contribution to this EU mission in Chad in the spirit of its humanitarian tradition. We will certainly not take any rash action - not least in the interest of the security of our soldiers," concluded Plassnik, referring to last week’s exploratory mission to the region by Minister of Defence Norbert Darabos.

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