We published the Austria’s foreign minister Sebastian Kurz message on this occasion:
Dear Members of the AEJ,
A warm welcome to one of Austria´s most beautiful regions – the Burgenland! Your General Assembly provides me with an excellent opportunity to express my appreciation for your work. Because what you do is nothing less than an essential ingredient for the proper functioning of our democracies.
Today, however, our freedom and values are also threatened again. Threatened for example by an increasingly sophisticated network of international terrorism as illustrated by ISIS. Their success in recruiting – also via the social media – growing numbers of young people also from Europe is highly disturbing. Our civil society, the media and we as politicians, must work hand in hand to counter this threat in order to defend our common values.
Austria has also made the protection of human rights as well as the safety of journalists one of itsforeign policy priorities. We have therefore sought to mobilise the international community for the safety of journalists in the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva as well as during our recent chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
In the countries of the European Unionwar, hate and nationalistic rivalry have fortunately made way for trust, cooperation and prosperity thanks to the European integration process. We have to continue our efforts to extend this zone of peace and prosperity to the whole Western Balkans.
It nevertheless remains challenging to communicate the positive aspects of EU-integration to our own citizens. Communication though is not just about information, it is just as much about listening to the citizens and their concerns. In Austria, we therefore run a number of EU-communication-initiatives, such as the “Think European, Act Local” initiative in cooperation with the European Commission’s Representation in Austria. The initiative supports more than 700 municipal counsellors to act as focal points in their municipalities for questions regarding the European Union.
Please be assured that your commitment and your professionalism are highly appreciated by the Austrian Foreign Ministry as well as by myself. I wish you a successful AEJ General Assembly here in Austria!
Minister for Foreign and European Affairs & Integration