Vienna, 24 November 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: “Cross-border networking of young executives should be promoted”

Austria’s Foreign Minister, together with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, opens first Arab-European Young Leaders Forum

Vienna, 24 November 2010 – More than 50 young European and Arab executives from fields such as business, politics, academia and the media have assembled in Vienna today for a four-day meeting, the first Arab-European Young Leaders Forum (AEYLF). “Although we are on the one hand divided by cultural differences, we are united by the political, economic and social challenges of our time on the other. In order to find sustainable solutions we need young leaders who are prepared to assume social responsibility beyond their professional duties and beyond borders”, stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger when opening the Forum today together with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa, at Vienna’s Diplomatic Academy.

The initiative, which is intended to last for a number of years, is a follow-up project to the international conference on dialogue held in December 2008 under the motto Europe and the Arab World – Connecting Partners in Dialogue, and is aimed at the further improving the networking between young executives from Europe and the Arab world. “Using innovative forms of cooperation and leveraging the potential of our diverse societies are necessary for a more successful and sustainable collaboration across borders and sectors, and for implementing necessary reforms in politics, business and society. Today’s Forum, which is promoting mutual exchange between the leaders of tomorrow, constitutes an important step in this process”, continued Spindelegger.

In his opening statement Spindelegger emphasised the important role assigned to leadership  in the integration issue. “The pluralism of our modern societies calls for responsible leadership. The recent alarming attacks on Christian minorities in Turkey and the Middle East as well as the sometimes highly emotional debate on the integration of the 15 million Muslims living in the European Union bear witness to this issue. The fact that the share of immigrants in the EU Member States ranges between 5 and 25 per cent calls for role models who know how to manage diversity and actively support integration.”

In the course of the next three days, more than 50 participants from 23 countries of the European Union, the League of Arab States and Turkey will present activities and projects from such fields as politics, civil society, business, corporate social responsibility, culture and the environment, and examine possible partnership initiatives.

Following the opening the Foreign Minister met with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa, for an exchange of ideas, with a particular focus on the most recent developments in the Middle East. In this context the Foreign Minister underlined the efforts undertaken by the Arab League to overcome the impasse in the negotiations between Israel and the PLO. He also informed the Secretary-General about the efforts undertaken by the European Union and the readiness of the EU and Austria to cooperate more closely with the Arab League. Both partners hope that Israel will extend the settlement moratorium and that negotiations will soon continue with renewed vigour.

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