Vienna, 28 March 2013 Press release

Spindelegger: "Safety of our UN soldiers on the Golan Heights must be respected"

Austria's Foreign Minister welcomes the clear signal of the UN Security Council for improving the safety of Austrian soldiers on the Golan Heights

Vienna, 28 March 2013 – "The Security Council called upon all parties of the conflict in Syria to ensure and respect the safety and freedom of movement of UN soldiers", Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said in response to yesterday's statement of the UN Security Council on the safety of UN soldiers on the Golan Heights.

In its statement, the Security Council confirmed its unconditional support of the UN mission and thanked the soldiers and their states who have been monitoring the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria since 1974. With more than 370 soldiers, Austria is currently supplying more than one third of the entire UN peace-keeping force. The Security Council also appreciated the measures taken by the United Nations to increase the safety and reduce the risks to which the soldiers in the Golan Heights are exposed. These measures were "necessary" and would have to be "reviewed constantly and adjusted to the situation in the area of the mission, if required", the Foreign Minister said. He continued to say that he would do everything in his power to keep the risk of the Austrian troops to a minimum.

The Security Council also expressed its concern about the presence of both Syrian government troops and armed opposition fighters in the UN mission area. "It must be clear for both parties to the conflict in Syria that attacks against UN blue helmets are unacceptable. All parties have to respect the mandate and thus the personal safety of the UN soldiers on the Golan Heights", Spindelegger concluded.

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