16 May 2006

Activities of Secretary-General in Vienna, 11 - 13 May

NEW YORK, 15 May (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, accompanied by Mrs. Annan, arrived in Vienna from New York in the afternoon of Thursday, 11 May, on the first leg of a trip that will also take him to five Asian countries.

He held a town hall meeting late Thursday afternoon with United Nations staff at the Vienna International Centre, the United Nations complex.  Some 4,000 people work for the United Nations system in Vienna.

In the evening, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan attended a dinner for the participants of the Fourth Summit of the Heads and State and Government of the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean, hosted by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel at the Hofburg Palace.

On Friday morning, the Secretary-General delivered the keynote address at the opening session of the Fourth European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Heads of State Summit in Vienna.  He focused on the challenge of rising youth unemployment confronting both regions, which he described as "a grave and growing problem", and recommended some "necessary" approaches to productive employment for young people.  (See Press Release SG/SM/10458 .)

He said, "Being unemployed early in life takes a heavy and enduring toll on the individual.  It can damage prospects for employment later in life.  The habit of working, once lost, is very difficult to recover, leading to a cycle of despair, poverty and social instability, a cycle that is destructive not only for their own lives but for society as a whole."

"We cannot afford to let this vicious circle continue any longer", he said.  "Youth is our most valuable asset -- our future.  We must nurture it."

He also participated in a joint press conference with the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and President Vincente Fox of Mexico, the co-Presidents of the summit.

The Secretary-General then held a number of meetings with senior Austrian Government officials, starting with the Chancellor and Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.  He and Mrs. Annan then met with Federal President Heinz Fischer and Mrs. Fischer and attended a lunch hosted by them at the Hofburg Palace.

He also held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Summit.  He met with the Presidents of Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Finland, Chile and Brazil.  He also met with CARICOM (Caribbean Community) members and the President of the Inter-American Development Bank.

In a separate programme on Friday, Mrs. Annan, accompanied by the Austrian Minister of Justice, Karin Gastinger, visited a domestic abuse intervention centre for women and children affected by violence and trafficking.  They met and spoke with survivors of violence and their caregivers, as well as representatives of organizations offering protection and assistance for women.  The visit was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

In the evening, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan attended a dinner hosted by the Austrian President at the Schonbrunn Palace.

The Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan left Vienna for Seoul in the morning on Saturday, 13 May.

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