Vienna, 30 November 2005 - "The achievements of the International Committee of the Red Cross deserve our greatest esteem. We are grateful for its indispensable service in conflict regions as a preserver, standard setter and guardian of humanitarian international law. The international Red Cross focuses on the dignity of man," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the occasion of the visit of ICRC President Kellenberger to Vienna.
The visit was paid in the context of Austria’s forthcoming EU Presidency. As a globally active aid organisation, the ICRC is interested in close cooperation with the EU in order to ensure coordinated measures in crisis missions.
Another topic was the forthcoming introduction of a "Red Crystal" in addition to the existing symbols of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. The introduction of this new, religiously neutral symbol became possible through the agreement between Israel’s Red Star of David and the Palestinian Red Crescent on 28 November.
Further items on the agenda were the bilateral cooperation between Austria and the ICRC. Among other things, this year has seen support of aid programmes for the earthquake victims in Pakistan (400,000 euros) and water and settlement programmes in Rwanda (400,000 euros). In 2004 and 2005, Austria contributed a total of 2 million euros to ICRC projects. In addition, Austria donated 458,000 euros to the ICRC organisation budget this year.
"After the Second World War, Austrians benefited strongly from the support offered by the Red Cross. It is therefore only natural that Austria should today support the ICRC in its projects throughout the world," emphasised Plassnik.