Wien, 16. April 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "Will stay on the Golan Heights until our mandate has been fulfilled"

Additional 2 million euros for Syrian civilians in need

Vienna, 16 April 2013 – "Help for Syria is more urgently needed than ever – the people of Syria need support in their coping with the humanitarian crisis. We are therefore stepping up our humanitarian aid for civilians and are going to provide an additional two million euros for relief measures", State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said at a meeting with ambassadors from Arab countries.

"550 Austrian soldiers are currently deployed in three UN peace-keeping missions in the Middle East and contribute their share to stability and peace in the region. We are determined to maintain this presence as long as our troops are able to fulfil their mandate. This applies to the tense situation on the Golan Heights as well", Lopatka said.

The State Secretary explained the key elements of Austrian and EU support for the North-African countries that are undergoing transition processes. "We expect our partners to protect the freedom of religion and opinion and to respect the rights of women, youth and the civil society. Rule of law and the development of stable democratic institutions are at the core of a functional society. Financial support for the countries undergoing political upheaval is, however, contingent on progress in the reform process: The higher the efforts, the more support will be granted", the State Secretary said.

"North-Africa and the Middle East are important regions for Austria's exporting industry. Austrian companies are already well represented in this area and contribute to the economic development", Lopatka said.

The Palestinian-Israeli peace process is of decisive importance for stability and peace in the entire Middle East. "We have to do everything in our power to put the stalled negotiations between Israel and Palestine back on track. The most recent US initiative is an encouraging signal", the State Secretary concluded.

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