Press Releases

    1 December 2008

    Background press release

    Prospects for Peace in the Middle East to be Explored at Media Seminar Organized by the United Nations and the Austrian Foreign Ministry in Vienna, 2-3 December

    VIENNA, 1 December (UN Information Service) - The Middle East peace process stands at a crucial juncture. Is it moving in the right direction? Will it be possible to surmount current obstacles and move the process forward? What is the role of the international community in facilitating Israeli-Palestinian peace and the wider Middle East peace process?

    These are some of the questions that will be addressed by the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, which is being organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information and the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria at the Hofburg Congress Centre in Vienna on 2 and 3 December.

    The sixteenth annual United Nations media seminar will be addressed by Austrian Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Johannes Kyrle, as well as by Palestinian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Almutawakel Taha and former Israeli Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Eli Dayan. Mr. Robert Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, will deliver the keynote address. Mr. Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations, will open the session with a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, will make welcoming remarks.

    Four panels will discuss the role of the international community in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the new regional dimension involving the neighbouring countries in the Middle East peace process, prospects for the future of the peace process, Israeli-Palestinian civil society initiatives and the initiatives of other international actors.

    Panellists include: Ambassador Ralph Scheide, Director for the Middle East in the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria; and Ms. Shaazka Beyerle of the International Center on Non-Violent Conflict in Washington, D.C.

    Journalists participating as panellists include: Ms. Gudrun Harrer of Der Standard, Austria; Ms. Ayala Hasson, Diplomatic Correspondent of Israeli TV Channel One; Mr. Naser Al-Laham, Editor-in-Chief of the Palestinian Maan News Agency; Ms. Liat Collins, Editor of the International Jerusalem Post; Mr. Ian Black, Middle East Editor of the Guardian, UK; Mr. Robert Treichler, Middle East expert of the weekly PROFIL, Austria; and Ms. Elena Suponina, Political Analyst and Head of the International Desk of Vremya Novosti, Russian Federation.

    From civil society, Professor Ilan Juran, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Israeli-Palestinian Civil Society Initiative, will deliver the keynote address in the civil society segment. He will be joined by: Mr. Benny Vaknin, Mayor of Ashkelon, Israel; Mr. Haim Avitan, Mayor of Hadera, Israel; Mr. Khalid El Esseily, Mayor of Hebron; Mr. Hani Al-Hayek, Mayor of Beit Sahour; Mr. Jerome Safar, Deputy Mayor of Grenoble; Mr. Christian Lalu, representing the Mayors Association in France; Mr. Takeshi Naruse, Resident Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in the West Bank and Gaza; and Mr. Naum Berkovich, Chairman of the Association of the Partnership Russia-Israel-Palestine.

    The media seminar is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly and has been held annually since 1991. In the last five years, it has been held in Seville, Beijing, Cairo, Moscow and Tokyo.

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    For further details, registration and interview appointments, please contact:

    Veronika Crowe-Mayerhofer
    Public Information Assistant, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-3342
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-3342

    Lothar Mikulla
    Associate Information Officer, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5693
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5693