Moscow, 5 October 2009 - "I am delighted that Russia is prepared to provide active support for Austria’s chairmanship of the UN Security Council," stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on the occasion of today’s visit to Moscow, where he had a long meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in preparation for Austria’s chairmanship of the UN Security Council in November. "Austria has set itself the concrete goal of putting the protection of the civilian population in armed conflicts back on top of the UN agenda. During our chairmanship of the UN Security Council we intend to further develop and modernise existing international instruments of protection. Darfur, Sri Lanka, Congo and other recent conflicts all show that there is a need for action. I have therefore invited my colleague Sergey Lavrov as well as the other partners in the Security Council to support this endeavour," continued Spindelegger.
The two foreign ministers also discussed those international issues which will have to be dealt with by the Security Council in the coming weeks and months. "Particularly with regard to Iran it is obvious that Russia is an indispensable partner that can play an important and constructive role in international cooperation. The fact that Russia is prepared to help with regard to Iran’s controlled uranium enrichment issue is an important component in the international community’s concerted action towards Iran. We rely on Russia continuing to play its role in a responsible manner together with the other partners in the Security Council," affirmed Spindelegger.
"Energy is and will remain a key topic between the European Union and Russia," emphasised Spindelegger, addressing concern that another gas crisis could occur this winter. "We must ensure that European consumers will not become the victims of another bilateral gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine. However, in these efforts we will not relieve the two parties – neither Russia nor Ukraine - of their responsibilities. The EU and particularly its citizens do not understand when bilateral disputes are carried out on their backs. The coming winter is an opportunity to re-establish Europe’s confidence in its energy partnership with Russia," continued Spindelegger.
The talks also focused on bilateral issues: "Our relations with Russia are traditionally close and friendly. As demonstrated by increasing figures in tourism and trade, Austria is a much sought-after partner for Russia. Since 2000 the average growth rate of overnight stays by Russian tourists in Austria has been in the two-digit range. For both sides there is still a lot of potential in this field that ought to be leveraged," stated Spindelegger. The Foreign Minister also seized the opportunity to address the issue of outstanding restitution claims as regards Austrian cultural assets: "Even though great progress has been achieved, the return of assets belonging to Vienna’s Jewish community is still outstanding. I trust that this matter can be swiftly resolved," concluded Spindelegger.
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