Vienna, 29 October 2008 – Today, the Ministerial Council extended 13 Austrian peacekeeping missions, including nine by Austria’s Federal Armed Forces abroad. Among them are the four missions in which Austria is represented by a larger contingent: the participation in KFOR in Kosovo, in UNDOF on the Golan Heights in the Middle East, in EUFOR Chad/RCA in Chad, and in EUFOR/ALTHEA in Bosnia. The other extensions relate to missions of military observers and staff officers in smaller numbers to Georgia, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Congo and the Balkans.
The mandates for the Austrian participation in international missions last until 31 December 2008. Twelve of them have now been extended to 31 December 2009; only the participation in the Chad deployment was limited to mid-March, the end of the EU mission there. Due to major logistical challenges, dismantling the infrastructure and the complete withdrawal of the Austrian contingent will take until the end of May.
"With today’s decisions, Austria once more emphasises its long-term commitment to peace and its willingness to assume international responsibility", emphasised Plassnik. Commenting on the Chad mission, the Minister stated: "As demanded by Austria, the EU’s humanitarian bridging mission to Chad remains limited to one year. By extending its participation in the Chad mission to the end of the term of the EU mission, Austria once more proves itself to be a reliable partner that values solidarity. We have asserted ourselves with our demand that the EU bridging mission be superseded after one year by a UN follow-up operation. In this way we ensure in the best possible way that there will be no security gaps and that we meet the target of our deployment, namely the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons in Chad as well as the facilitation of humanitarian aid".
Defence Minister Norbert Darabos highlights the importance of international missions, particularly in the Western Balkans: "Austria’s Federal Armed Forces have helped for years to create stability in the region and prevent the spreading of crises in our immediate neighbourhood. Extending these missions is a sign of responsibility and solidarity", affirmed Darabos, pointing out in this context that Austria is the largest non-NATO state to provide peace troops for Kosovo, where an Austrian officer commands one of five multi-national brigades.
Austria’s Federal Armed Forces are currently participating in 15 peace missions, with a total of 1,327 male and 31 female soldiers. In the past fifty years, some 60,000 Austrian soldiers have been deployed on international missions.
The participation of Austrian experts in the EU’s civil crisis management missions has also been extended. Within EU police and rule of law missions, Austrian police officers and judicial experts help, for example, to improve the efficiency and structures of the police forces and the judicial systems in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Palestinian Territories.
"In this way Austria is making an important contribution to the development of state administrations of young and/or emerging nations and the stabilisation of our neighbours, near and far. This is also in our own interest: security at home starts with stability in our close and distant neighbouring countries", concluded Plassnik.
Bundesministerium für europäische
und internationale Angelegenheiten
Mag. Alexander Schallenberg
Pressesprecher der Außenministerin
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3265
Fax: ++43 (0) 535 50 91
Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung
Mag. Answer Lang
Pressesprecher des Verteidigungsministers
Federal Ministry for Defense