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 took a clear stand on the current developments in the Middle East.
"The most recent shocking images from Gaza and Israel should be a wake-up call for all of us. The stalemate in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process has dire consequences", the Vice-Chancellor said against the background of the outbreak of violence in the past few weeks. A few days before the UN General Assembly's vote on the Palestinian application to be granted observer status, Spindelegger referred to the attacks as "act of desperation of the Palestinian National Authority that has no perspective of the future to offer to its people any more." He therefore demanded that the re-elected US administration together with the EU make another attempt to overcome the stalemate in the Middle East and demonstrate a new diplomatic perspective.
The Vice-Chancellor dedicated a large part of his speech to the upheavals in the wake of the Arab Spring, also referring to the imminent risks of current developments. "It is not yet clear if this Spring will be followed by a lasting Summer. Nobody can say with certainty if the high expectations will be fulfilled. It would, however, be fatal if we only watched and reduced our action to lecturing. We are called upon to contribute proactively to this epoch-making upheaval in our immediate neighbourhood!" Spindelegger also said that such a contribution would be in our own interest: Only if the West, led by the EU, would show its commitment "can we deprive the radical alternatives of their attractiveness and breeding ground."
As far as the bloody conflict in Syria is concerned, Spindelegger found plain words. "Given the human tragedy Syria is suffering, Russia's and China's continued blockage of the UN Security Council is incomprehensible. Russia and China should finally live up to their responsibility in the Security Council and make it possible for the international community to join ranks in applying itself to the establishment of peace in this country", the Foreign Minister said. At the same time he demanded that the events in Syria be brought before the International Criminal Court: "All the forces committing crimes of war or crimes against humanity in Syria must be held accountable; regardless of the side these forces are on."
He also made a clear demand of the Syrian opposition: "An opposition to Assad will only be successful if it includes all groups of Syrian society. This means that Kurds, Christians and Alawis will have to be represented." The objective, according to Spindelegger, is a pluralistic system "where minorities are not played off against each other." The opposition would therefore have to plausibly put the rule of law and the respect for human rights at the top of its agenda.
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