Vienna, 4 September 2003 Press release

Swiss Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey visits Ferrero-Waldner


Common interest in strengthening the international system

Vienna, 4 September 2003 - "Switzerland's accession to the United Nations was particularily welcomed by Austria. We very much appreciate the fact that we are now able to pursue our goals jointly within all bodies and agencies of the global organisation", emphasised the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner today at the joint press conference following working talks with her Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey.

Like Switzerland, Austria views issues such as securing peace and conflict prevention, the protection and promotion of human rights, the protection of the environment and the further development of international law as priority areas of her UN policy.

"Within the framework of the Human Security Network (HSN), for instance, Austria and Switzerland are endeavouring to promote an overarching and comprehensive new security concept which places the focus on the human individual. Against this background, Austria and Switzerland appear as natural partners in the United Nations", said Ferrero-Waldner. She added that this supra-regional form of cooperation is particularly attractive to medium-sized states like Austria and Switzerland since it enables them to pursue specific issues outside the large interest blocs, thus strengthening the universality of the international system.

According to Ferrero-Waldner, the two countries also share a special interest in the OSCE, an organisation which fulfils important tasks in the fields of crisis prevention, civil crisis management and post-crisis management, particularly also in the regions bordering Europe such as the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia.

During the bilateral part of their talks the two Ministers' discussions also focussed on cooperation between Austria and Switzerland in the field of security policy. Both countries participate actively in the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), giving rise to points of departure for a close cooperation in this area, within the framework of KFOR for instance.

Further topics of discussion during today's meeting were the future of Europe, the situation in the Middle East and the question of a future commitment on the part of the international community and/or the United Nations in Iraq.

Additionally, the two Foreign Ministers talked in detail about Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey's trip to East Asia, and particularly her official visit to North Korea in May this year. "The first round of multilateral talks to settle the nuclear dispute was held in Beijing just a week ago. The fact that these talks took place at all is a ray of hope in itself", stated Ferrero-Waldner. "After the talks in Beijing is now clearer than ever that an acceptable solution to the conflict will only be achieved through negotiations. These negotiations have only just begun."