Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Federal Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the situation in Southern Africa and the involvement of the Austrian Development Cooperation in Zimbabwe:
A response to the Appeal of SADOCC and AZFA to provide for Food Aid to Zimbabwe´s starving population.

"Southern Africa has been a priority region for the Austrian Development Cooperation for a number of years. The Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs, therefore, pays a lot of attention to developments in this region and, in particular, to those in Zimbabwe.

Based on a traditionally good relationship, Austria does all it can to support the people who live in the region. Bearing in mind the present alarming humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, it has been seen to it that part of the Austrian contribution to the World Food Programme of the United Nations goes to Zimbabwe directly and quickly.

Austria fully supports the efforts of the European Union to continue and intensify the provision of humanitarian aid to the people of Zimbabwe. In doing so, all efforts are made to ensure that this aid reaches those in need and is not misused for political purposes. In addition, Austria endeavours to help reviving the political dialogue between the European Union and Zimbabwe by actively promoting its own position with regard to development cooperation, thus shaping the policy of the European Union vis-a-vis Zimbabwe.

At the same time, Austria remains involved in bilateral activities in Zimbabwe. Despite the recent developments in this target country of the Austrian Development Cooperation, support to the poor remains an important priority. In the view of Austria, hasty reactions would be at the expense of the suffering population and are therefore inadequate.

Nonetheless, in a situation like this it is no longer advisable to follow "business as usual". The Austrian Development Cooperation is therefore concentrating its efforts on those partners in Zimbabwe who are in a position to channel aid to the really needy and who work for fundamental democratic change. The volume of Austrian support will, on the one hand, reflect the difficult general situation as well as the capacities available within Zimbabwe to implement projects, and, on the other hand, depend on budgetary resources available in Austria.

Efficient development programmes not only depend on the financial resources available but, to a large extent, on the well-directed use of these means which is reflected by the sustainability of projects financed from them. This principle particularly applies to regions suffering from political crises and instability. "

Vienna, May 2002
(translation by AZFA)

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