Vienna, 14 December 2005 - "Austria has been a member of the United Nations working for peace in the world for 50 years now," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on Wednesday, 14 December, at the ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of Austria’s membership of the United Nations.
In her welcome address, Plassnik congratulated IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December: "On the International Human Rights Day and exactly 100 years after Bertha von Suttner found recognition for her work and her rallying cry ‘Lay down your arms’, once again a prominent personality and organisation - the IAEA and its Director General Mohammed ElBaradei - have been honoured for their commitment to seeking ways and technical means to make our world safer," said the Foreign Minister.
With this world community for peace spanning over a century, Plassnik stressed that disarmament, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the development of a comprehensive security concept would remain one of the greatest challenges to the international community in the future. She emphasised the role of the United Nations in creating and maintaining peace and security in the world: "Following on from the Blue Helmets and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the work of the United Nations family has been paid tribute to this year for a third time through the award of the Nobel Peace Prize."
The Foreign Minister pointed out that the values that Bertha von Suttner and Mohammed ElBaradei stood up for with such vigour also characterised the cooperation between Austria and the UN: "The liberation of future generations from the scourge of war, and belief in the dignity and value of human beings, in equal rights for men and women, in the sovereignty of law and solidarity are the spiritual pillars that unite us today. Austria has acted in this spirit both inside and outside the United Nations for the last 50 years." In is frequently possible to achieve more through a concerted effort, said the Foreign Minister. At the same time, an intensive commitment to the UN is not irreconcilable with an independent foreign and peace policy. On the contrary, they are complementary.
Plassnik called on the international community not to slacken in its efforts to achieve a more peaceful, secure and just world and also mentioned the UN reform and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals as further major tasks.
The Foreign Minister thanked the former UN Secretary-General and former Federal President Kurt Waldheim on behalf of all Austrians working in the United Nations for his work and commitment. She concluded with a quote from Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi: "The only real freedom is freedom from fear."
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