Vienna/New York, 18 May 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "The world needs a concerted approach by UN and EU"


Austria a member of the UN for 50 years, Foreign Minister visits UN Secretary-General

Vienna/New York, 18 May 2005 - "In addressing the urgent global issues the world needs a concerted approach by the UN and the EU", said Foreign Minister Plassnik on the occasion of her meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York.

Plassnik described the EU and the UN as important partners in the management of crises and in international development cooperation. "In the prevention and resolution of political conflicts the UN is an important mediator, also on European soil", said the Foreign Minister, referring to the Cyprus conflict in which Kofi Annan is taking a leading role in the search for a solution. According to Plassnik, the work of the EU and the UN should be coordinated and interlinked in an optimum way, a matter to which she would also be attaching great importance during the forthcoming Austrian EU Presidency. The EU itself was the epitome of successful multilateralism, said Plassnik.

During her visit the Minister for Foreign Affairs underlined Annan's impressive personal track record as Secretary-General, pointing out that he had decisively shaped three UN reforms and that it was thanks to him that Africa was now being given the attention it deserves in the public debate.

For Austria, 2005 was also a landmark year in terms of the country's successful membership of the UN, continued the Foreign Minister. Austria has now been part of the United Nations for 50 years, and a headquarters of the United Nations for 25 years - a seat of the UN that has specialised in global security issues. Be it nuclear safety, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating international drug trafficking and crime or the fight against terror - the UN agencies dealing with these security-related issues all have their headquarters in Vienna.

Plassnik emphasised the concrete initiatives taken by Austria to support the work of the UN in general, particularly highlighting the latest cooperation between the UN and Austria under which smaller poor countries are to have office space in Vienna at their disposal to enable them to maintain a base in the UN headquarters city. "It is important that these poorer states in particular are given access to the discussions and organisations of the global community, because by facilitating this access we can help ensure that these states are not isolated", said Plassnik.

A further focus of the talks was on the reform of the UN. As Plassnik emphasised, this was not only a matter of increasing the number of seats in the United Nations Security Council, but about addressing the great questions facing humanity. "We live in a vulnerable world and we are all seeking greater security", said Plassnik. The UN reform had recognised the roots of the global threat. "The key issue at stake here is efficient combating of hunger, disease and underdevelopment", continued the Foreign Minister, adding that Austria will be stepping up her development aid budget to 0.51 per cent of gross national income in order to support the United Nations in addressing these global tasks.

Besides Secretary-General Annan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs during her visit to New York also met the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Louise Fréchette, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, and the Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman.