Wien, 26. November 2012 Press release

Spindelegger: "Foreign policy means security policy"

Vice-Chancellor explains Austria's foreign policy commitment in his annual address at the UNA-Austria and demands global nuclear disarmament

Vienna, 26 November 2012 – In his address delivered at the Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria (UNA-Austria) today, Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger touched on some central challenges of Austrian international policy, emphasising the importance that foreign policy has for Austria. "Our efforts in the multi-lateral field, e.g. in the sphere of human rights and disarmament, and our commitment in the Balkans and in the Middle East are an investment in our own security, our own prosperity. For a small country with an export-oriented economy, such as Austria, it is particularly important to establish international networks and to get involved. We cannot and must not ever be indifferent to what happens in our immediate and wider environment."

The Vice-Chancellor expressed his clear support for Austria's contribution to international crisis intervention operations and thanked the nearly 1,500 Austrians who are currently deployed in Kosovo, Bosnia, Lebanon and the Golan Heights. "We will not be able to ensure our own security in a globalised world if we pursue a head-in-the-sand policy or display a free-rider mentality. Austria is actively involved in European crisis management in its own interest. Despite the need to cut costs we cannot afford to reduce our efforts in this field", the Vice-Chancellor said.

Similar to his latest speech on the future of European integration, Spindelegger expressed a clear commitment to EU expansion in the Balkans: "EU membership of the whole region have never been empty words for us. Our active involvement on the Western Balkans and their rapprochement to the European Union is a central element of our foreign policy and will remain so." The Vice-Chancellor referred to some individual states in the Balkans and found plain words, for example on Bosnia and Herzegovina.  "Developments of the past few months have, unfortunately, been disappointing. I would wish that those in political power would apply themselves with the same vigour to the European future of the country as to their fight for power and personal influence."

At the same time, he demanded that a clear step be taken with regard to Macedonia: "Bilateral or regional disputes must not inhibit the EU integration process. Therefore, I am clearly in favour of starting accession negotiations under the provisional name of "FYROM" and strive for a lasting resolution to the name issue at a later point in time. It cannot be that we, in Europe, do not succeed in finally finding a compromise in this matter!"

Spindelegger also demanded more European involvement in global politics - or more concretely in issues of security policy. The Vice-Chancellor referred in particular to the necessity of a future without nuclear weapons. Spindelegger called upon Europe to act as a global role model in nuclear disarmament. "Let us start by abolishing nuclear weapons in Europe. This would be an immensely confidence-building measure on our continent. The fact that the times of the Cold War are over should finally also be reflected in military doctrines."

In the context of the regions of the Middle and Far East, the Vice-Chancellor again explicitly noted the need to establish a zone without nuclear weapons. He suggested drawing inspiration from the cooperation in security matters in Europe during the Cold War. "I suggest a completely new, innovative approach: Why not establish a collective security system, a kind of OSCE for the Middle East? Such a multilateral structure would entail what is most likely the most sustainable form of security for Israel and the entire region. What was possible between the two hostile blocks during the Cold War should also be feasible in the Middle East."

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