Vienna, 10 October 2012 Press release

Austria has political weight in the Middle East and makes a broad ranging contribution to stability

State Secretary Lopatka at the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee

Vienna 10 October 2012 – “The rapid changes in the Arab World are a major foreign policy challenge for Austria, since these developments also affect us directly”, State Secretary Lopatka said today in the Foreign Affairs Committee. “We support the democratic change in the region and place special emphasis on the maintaining of human rights and of women’s rights and also the protection of minorities. We are on the side of all those who demand reforms, democracy and the rule of law”, Lopatka said.

“The holding of elections, the elaborating of new constitutions, clarifying the relationship between society and religion and also improving economic development and creating jobs are important for providing the young people in these countries with a perspective for the future. The Austrian companies that have been long established in the region are making an important contribution to its economic and social stability.

“We are showing great commitment in the region. Our varied support ranges from infrastructure projects in the health sector and a training provision for diplomats, through to cooperation work on the Alliance of Civilisations, the Arab Young Leaders Forum and in interreligious and intercultural dialogue. The International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna will make a start on its tasks directly after it is opened on 26 November 2012. In terms of content, the focus of the Centre is on activities both from and with non-state stakeholders, i.e. with religious communities and representatives of civil society”, the State Secrertary said.

“A great cause of concern for Austria at the present time is the humanitarian situation in Syria. We have recently increased our humanitarian aid to 2 million euros in order to help the needy civil population in Syria and the refugees in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon and Jordan”, the State Secreary said.
“Furthermore Austria demanded from the start that there should be consequences to be faced for serious infringements against human rights by the conflict parties and we called for the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice”, the State Secretary added.
 “The nuclear discussions with Iran are regretably disappointing.For this reason, the EU may soon decide on further sanctions, in order to stop Iran from playing for time and to commit itself seriously to the E3+3 talks”,  Lopatka concluded.

Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213
E-Mail: abti3(at)