From September 23-29, 2018, Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl was in New York City for the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Together with Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, she took part in the opening of the General Debate at the United Nations in New York, before jointly meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres to discuss climate change and the humanitarian situation in Syria and Yemen. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Office in Vienna next year, Secretary-General Guterres thanked Austria for her support on policy and was cordially invited to celebrate this event in Vienna in 2019.
Address to the UN General Assembly
On September 29, 2018, Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl delivered the official Austrian statement at the 73rd UNGA in four official UN languages, i.e. Arabic, French, Spanish, and English: She focused on effective multilateralism, nuclear disarmament, empowerment of women and girls, and the situation in the Middle East. The Foreign Minister described multilateralism as a progressive form of diplomacy and announced that Austria would make concrete contributions to demining in Syria and increasing humanitarian aid for Yemen. Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl also insisted on the need to regard international treaties as more than a mere moral obligation. Noting that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was negotiated in Vienna, she said its preservation is a matter of respecting international agreements and, in the end, a matter of international security. Watch her full UN speech here.
In the preceding days, Foreign Minister Kneissl held more than 15 bilateral political talks, i.e. with the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Nasser Kamel. Kneissl underlined Austria's support for the UfM's activities and the importance of the countries of the Mediterranean region in facing economic, social, migration and security issues. Later that day, further meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Libya, Brazil, Mexico, and Palestine followed. In a joint informal working meeting, the EU Foreign Ministers stressed the need for humanitarian assistance and peace in Libya and Syria. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister together with the Federal President met the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, followed by Jordan's King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein. Another highlight of the second day marked the Transatlantic Dinner at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Foreign Minister Kneissl seized the week of the UN General Assembly for several talks with counterparts and high-ranking representatives of international organizations, such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to emphasize Austria's commitment to refugees. Afterwards, the Foreign Minister held an exchange of views with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, on international humanitarian law and humanitarian aid. Further bilateral talks were held with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as her counterparts from India, Sushma Swaraj, and Bangladesh, Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali. The working day was rounded off with an EU side event on Syria together with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and a meeting with Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, in which the Foreign Minister called for further close cooperation.
Awarding the Decoration of Honor in Gold to Lily Renée Philipps
After fleeing Vienna in 1939, Lily Renée Philipps established herself in New York as a successful comic book author with renowned publications like "Jane Martin", "Werewolf Hunter", and "Senorita Rio". The bestowal of the Decoration of Honor in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria was solemnized in the Austrian Consulate General in New York.
Other highlights included a working session of the Informal Ministerial Network for the International Criminal Court, a guest lecture at New York University entitled “World War I is not yet over in the Middle East”, and a visit to Rabbi Arthur Schneier’s Park East Synagogue together with the Federal President. On top of that, the Foreign Minister met with her counterparts from Marocco, Nasser Bourita, Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Tunisia, Khemaies Jhinaoui, as well as the Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund, Henrietta Fore.