Austrian Representatives at the UN General Assembly in New York

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: September 19, 2023; 22:56 ♦ (Vindobona)

The UN General Assembly, which is taking place in New York this year, will see strong representation from Austria. With Federal President Alexander van der Bellen and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg at the forefront, Austria wants to convey its messages clearly.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen attended the 78th SDG Summit. / Picture: © Österreichische Präsidentschaftskanzlei / Peter Lechner/HBF

In his speech at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit, Federal President Van der Bellen underlined the importance of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. However, he sees one of these goals, namely to eliminate hunger, in danger.

As concrete support, he announced an additional payment of 60 million euros for 2023 to 2025 to the World Food Program. Away from the official program, he found time to meet with other heads of state and also attend U.S. President Joe Biden's reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Schallenberg sets the tone

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Schallenberg is heavily engaged. Immediately after arriving in New York, he attended a meeting of EU foreign ministers and focused on Africa. Talks are planned with counterparts from Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, and Mozambique, as well as with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

One of Schallenberg's main focuses is the current Russian aggression against Ukraine. In his speech, he stressed that Austria supports any initiative that leads to a just and lasting peace in Ukraine. This, he said, is not only an attack on Ukraine but also on the rules-based international order and a blatant violation of the UN's founding charter.

Joint activities and meetings

President Van der Bellen and Foreign Minister Schallenberg attended several events together and will also meet UN Secretary-General António Guterres. An important point of discussion will be the EU-Mercosur agreement, in which Austria has so far taken a blocking stance.

Amid all the official meetings and talks, there were also snapshots of cultural exchange. For example, Van der Bellen and Schallenberg met for dinner at a New York restaurant called "Little Owl," a departure from the tradition of dining at a place owned by Viennese chef Edi Frauneder.

Looking to the future

Both representatives stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation. The UN General Assembly provides a unique platform to engage with numerous international leaders in a short period of time and to promote dialogue on the most pressing global challenges. It is clear that Austria's representatives in New York are not only representing their national interests but are also actively working for a better and fairer world.

Austrian MFA