Vienna, 2 March 2010 – “Over recent years Austria has made progress in the fight against discrimination and racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, but there is still a lot that remains to be done. The recommendations of the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) constitute an important basis for our further steps,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger at the presentation of the Council of Europe’s ECRI Report on the situation in Austria.
The Foreign Minister had supported the ECRI’s visit to Austria in 2009 to the best of his abilities, as well as led an intensive dialogue with the Commission on the content of the Report. “In conjunction with the competent ministries, we have thoroughly examined the recommendations and elaborated a comprehensive statement,” continued the Foreign Minister.
Spindelegger referred to the positive developments identified in the Report as regards the equality of women and integration of immigrants. “Equal opportunities for women and the ‘New Austrians’ is an important concern of mine. Their productive potential must be leveraged to an increasing extent, and the future of our country can only be shaped successfully this way.”
The Report also gives a positive assessment of measures with regard to the education of foreign children as well as projects in the field of inter-cultural learning. Improved access to the housing market for foreigners and the situation of the Roma in Austria are highlighted as examples of significant progress achieved since the last report, which was issued in 2005. “The integration of the ‘New Austrians’ into our society is a key challenge of the future. The Report provides important incentives for this long and difficult process,” affirmed the Foreign Minister.
The Report also contains recommendations for improving the fight against racism and intolerance. “We take these recommendations very seriously and are consistently working on their comprehensive implementation,” stated the Foreign Minister, adding that the current government programme contained a number of measures aimed at extending protection against racism and discrimination, a commitment to implement the EU’s 2008 framework decision against racism and xenophobia, and recommendations by the UN Committee Against Racial Discrimination. The Federal Government had also adopted a National Action Plan on Integration, containing important measures to promote integration. In this context Spindelegger also emphasised the importance of cooperation with international and regional organisations, such as the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. “The Agency provides important incentives for European human rights policy, in particular the fight against racism, thus making an important contribution to the development of an open society committed to diversity and tolerance,” concluded Spindelegger.
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