Wien, 14. January 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "We invite the African Union to open an office in Vienna"

Ambassadors of African states welcome France's action against terrorists in Mali

Vienna, 14 January 2013 – "Austria invites the African Union to establish an office in Vienna in the year marking the 50th anniversary of the African Union.The African Union (AU) already has representation offices in New York and Geneva. An office at the UN headquarters location Vienna would therefore be the next logical step", State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said today at a working meeting with ambassadors from African states.

"In 2013, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity as the predecessor to today's African Union. We are taking this anniversary as an opportunity to offer the AU a start-up package for establishing a liaison office in Vienna", the State Secretary said. "Our package includes, among other advantages, financial support for renting office facilities and the acquisition of initial office equipment."

"The African Union's objective is security on the African continent. The Vienna-based organisations dedicated to safety, security, energy and development are therefore to be seen as a centre of African interests. The UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) are of special relevance for Africa. Austria supports UNIDO with 2 million euros every year to push industrial development in Africa and promote competition in Mozambique, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Senegal for example, to step up exports and to improve the investment climate", Lopatka explained. The International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA), also based in Vienna, and the Sustainable Energy for All initiative of the UN Secretary General, as well as the Dialogue of Cultures and Religions would be reasons enough for the African Union to benefit more from synergy effects in Vienna.

"The African ambassadors share our concern and that of the European Union about the developments in Mali. They welcomed the action taken by France against the advance of extremist forces as well as the EU's commitment. The international community is called upon to join ranks in fighting a further spread of terrorism in the Sahel region. We must support the Mali government to prevent parts of the country from being controlled by terrorists and extremist groups", the State Secretary said.

"It is not without reason that Africa is called the continent of the future. The increasing distribution of new communication technologies and the progress in the development of infrastructure are providing Africa with good opportunities for growth and development. As the Austrian soft loan programmes with China and the states of the Western Balkans are coming to an end, resources are being freed that offer additional incentive for the commitment of Austrian companies and their economic cooperation with African partners",  Lopatka said.

The State Secretary also referred to Austria's efforts in Development Cooperation and humanitarian aid. Some 0.43% of the GNP is expected to be used as public spending for Development Cooperation in 2013, which would put Austria on an equal footing in this respect with neighbouring Germany and Switzerland.

The next working meeting between the State Secretary and ambassadors of African countries is scheduled for May.

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