Vienna, 9 December 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "50 years of UN membership means 50 years of solidarity in practice"


Official ceremony "Austria - a member of the UN for 50 years"

Vienna, 9 December 2005 - At the initiative of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, a formal ceremony will take place on Wednesday, 14 December 2005, at 11 a.m. at the Vienna Hofburg to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Austria becoming a member of the UN.

On the occasion of the 50-year jubilee of Austria’s membership of the United Nations, speeches will be given by Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, Federal President Heinz Fischer, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, Director General of the UN in Vienna Antonio Maria Costa, Director General of the IAEA and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed EL Baradei, and Mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl. A welcome address by Secretary-General Kofi Annan will be transmitted by video broadcast.

The ceremony, which will be broadcast live by the Austrian Broadcasting Company ORF, will be accompanied by numerous performances by Vienna-based international music groups, a wind ensemble of the guard musicians and the choir of the Vienna International School.

For Foreign Minister Plassnik the ceremony also signifies Austria’s commitment to effective multilateralism. "Austria is prepared to take on responsibility. Our application for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the period 2009/2010 is to be seen in this light," declared the Foreign Minister.

For Plassnik, the fact that Vienna became the third official seat of the United Nations in 1979 is important proof of the good and stable relationship of trust between Austria and the UN. "Austria has a solid place within the Organization and will continue to make an active contribution to the United Nations in the future. The United Nations reform process introduced by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the final document adopted at the World Summit in New York in September 2005 are important steps towards strengthening the Organization," said Plassnik.

A major project in the reform process is the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission, which is to support states in post-conflict situations in the critical transition stage from conflict to long-term, stable development. Greater account is also to be taken of the concerns of women, particularly in such conflict situations, said Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister went on to underline another important follow-up measure to the World Summit of 2005, namely the establishment of a Human Rights Council which is to replace the Human Rights Commission that meets once a year in Geneva.

A formal ceremony will also take place on Wednesday at the UN Headquarters in New York, which will be attended by State Secretary Winkler. Austria will be musically represented in New York by Bo Skovhus and the Vienna’s Boys Choir.

Contact for further enquiries:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press Department
From Austria: 050 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
From abroad: ++43 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: 050 1159 213 or ++43 50 1159 213