Wien, 26. March 2014 Press release

Foreign Minister Kurz: First 100 days for a modern and open-minded Austria

The new Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs takes stock of his first 100 days in office

Vienna, 26 March 2014 – Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said on the occasion of his first 100 days in office: "We have mastered these challenging first 100 days as a team; all the people working at the Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs have joined forces and set themselves to work with great dedication and commitment. We have – among other things – responded to the crisis in the Ukraine, both in our capacity as Chairman of the Council of Europe and as a country; we made sure that public funding for bilateral development cooperation will not be cut back and that international conferences, such as nuclear negotiations with Iran can be held in Vienna. Progress was made in the field of integration, in particular with regard to the promotion of German language learning in early childhood or the new law on recognition of qualifications.  

All these tiny steps are important to be able to move things in politics. My team and I will apply ourselves to a pro-active European, integration and international policy also in future. This is about making our contribution to positioning Austria as a modern and open-minded country." 

The summary of the achievements of the first one hundred days includes, among others:  

1. EUROPE

·    Austria's commitment to the Western Balkans (e.g. doubling of EZA Western Balkans regional line, the Foreign Minister's first official visits to Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo)

·    Awareness building through fostering and promotion of EU communication initiatives, information events (presentations in schools, school events in the framework of the European Parliament election tour "Europa - Was ist jetzt", invitations of regional and federal pupils' representatives, network meetings), the "Laufen für Europa" initiative, strengthening the network of the Municipal Councillors for European Affairs initiative

·    Focus on regional partnership, for example as Chair of the Central European Initiative (CEI), first official visits paid to neighbouring countries, support for German-speaking minorities abroad

·    Active representation of Austria in the EU: Attendance of seven EU Council sessions and working meetings with the EU Commission and the European Parliament. 

2. INTEGRATION

·    Coordination of a targeted recognition law

·    Early language learning promotion and education: go-ahead for an agreement between the federal and the provincial level on a second compulsory year of kindergarten education for children who need it; preparation for the introduction of a language skill assessment for all 4-year old children

·    Strengthening of integration consulting and interreligious dialogue

·    Expanding the project "Zusammen:Österreich" 2014  

3. INTERNATIONAL POLICY

·    "Offensives Bürgerservice" i.e. pro-active service for citizens, support for Austrians in need, for example by intensifying the consular support (example: Dubai) and preparation of a crisis drill together with the Austrian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Defence and Sport to train better coordination of all actors playing a relevant role in crisis situations

·    Positioning Austria as a place of dialogue and strengthening its role as the domicile of international organisations (e.g. Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna, scheduling an international conference on nuclear disarmament)

·    Austria responded to the situation in Ukraine by taking targeted, national sanctions against Ukrainian citizens upon the request of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. Medical care for patients from Ukraine in Austria, medical aid supplies sent to Ukraine, secondment of experts in the framework of the OSCE mission

·    Active chairmanship of the European Council both with regard to the situation in Ukraine (e.g. travel with Secretary General Jagland to Kiev, secondment of minority experts, expert's report on the Crimean referendum by the Venice Commission, International Advisory Panel) as well as to human trafficking, the Internet and human rights

·    Decision to expand Austrian peace missions: increase from currently 822 to some 1,050 people

·    Securing bilateral development cooperation: despite saving measures, the Ministry succeeded in maintaining funds for bilateral development support at last year's level

·    Maintaining the funding level for Austrian Cultural Fora abroad despite general saving measures by exploiting synergies and increasing efficiency

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