Kabul/Vienna/Brussels, 15 February 2013 Press release

APA: Spindelegger in Afghanistan – meeting with President Karzai on Saturday

Austria calls for the development of the rule of law – "In our view the strengthening of the role of women in Afghan society will be decisive"

Kabul/Vienna/Brussels, 15 February 2013 – Austria aims to promote the rule of law in Afghanistan. "Austria has decided to support the Law and Order Trust Fund of the United Nations (LOFTA) with an 18 million euros donation. We will be making a highly concrete contribution through this to the partnership between the police and the local communities in Afghanistan, allowing the successes that have been achieved up until now to be secured", Austrian Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger (People’s Party) said in reply to APA questions during his visit to Afghanistan on Friday, according to the Foreign Ministry. Tomorrow, Saturday, Spindelegger will meet with the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Foreign Minister Salmai Rasul before flying back to Vienna.

Furthermore support is to be offered for women in Afghanistan. "In our view the strengthening of the role of women in the Afghan society will be decisive. I thus expect that financial means will also be specifically employed in this direction", the Minister said. "I will certainly raise this point in my meeting with President Karzai tomorrow. The nominations that are about to take place for the Supreme Court in Afghanistan would be a good opportunity to set a signal in this direction with the appointment of a woman."

"The stability of Afghanistan is in the interest of us all. It is quite plain that Afghanistan will also need to receive the support of the international community after 2014, and it will thus also receive help from us too", Spindelegger said. "The future of Afghanistan lies in addition to security above all in the key elements of strengthening the rule of law, the development of functional institutions and in bringing human rights to the fore, and here above all with a focus on the rights of women. The presidential elections in April 2014 will serve as a test for the further development of the country in this respect."

Today Friday, Spindelegger met the European Union's special representative for Afghanistan, Vygaudas Usackas, the United Nations Special Envoy for Afghanistan, the Slovak Jan Kubis, as also US General Joseph Dunford, Commander in Chief of the NATO led forces in Afghanistan ISAF, and also the head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Committee, Sima Samar.

This was the first visit of an Austrian foreign minister to Afghanistan for over 50 years, the last visit was by Leopold Figl in the 1950s. "Afghanistan is currently in an important phase that is decisive for the future of the country. - This is the reason why I decided to come here at this specific point in time, in order to gain my own view of the situation, but also of the continuing challenges ahead”, Spindelegger said.

(ends) vib/hf

 APA0643    2013-02-15/17:24:00