" A Good Day for Austria and Israel"

Ferrero-Waldner Meets Israel’s Foreign Minister Shalom in Vienna

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (11/19/03)

Today the chapter is finally closed on sanctions imposed upon Austria

Vienna. "This is no usual visit of an Israeli foreign minister to Austria. With today’s visit we are definitively closing the chapter on sanctions imposed upon Austria," emphasized Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner during the joint press conference following bilateral negotiations with her Israeli colleague, Silvan Shalom.

"The best prerequisites for redesigning and intensifying friendly relations with Israel have now been provided. Foreign Minister Shalom and I have discussed a number of initiatives which we have developed in the spirit of our renewed cooperation, particularly in the economic and cultural sectors," said Ferrero-Waldner. "Of special importance to me are the events planned during the coming year marking the 100th anniversary of the death of Theodor Herzl. Theodor Herzl is an important link connecting Austria and Israel. Foreign Minister Shalom and I both wish to actively support these events."

The potential for trade and exchange of goods has by far not been exhausted. For that reason mutual visits by leaders of government accompanied by delegations from the economic sector will be arranged in order to strengthen the mutual interests of businesses in Austria and Israel. In this regard, the Foreign Minister mentioned the visit of the President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ), Christoph Leitl, planned for the beginning of next year. "In the cultural area, we will intensify the exchange of visits and planned events. One first step in that direction was taken by State Secretary Franz Morak some weeks ago with his visit to Israel," according to the Foreign Minister.

In regard to the situation in the Near East, Minister Ferrero-Waldner emphasized that Europe and the Europeans have great interest in finding a solution, not only as direct neighbors to the conflict but also because of their historical and moral responsibility. "Due to our history, we possess certain sensitivities that must be brought to bear on the matter. We live in a continent that is very limited in space, with many languages and ethnic groups. Conflicts of ethnic minorities are not foreign to us. We should offer our experience in order to achieve positive results for such conflicts, not only for the Palestinian conflict, but also throughout the entire Islamic world."

At the close of the press conference, both Foreign Ministers lay wreaths at the Albertina Memorial and the Holocaust Memorial on Judenplatz in Vienna.