17.04.2012 | Vienna, Austria
On behalf of all my colleagues and staff at OFID, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Your Excellency, Mr. President, to our Headquarters, the Palais Deutschmeister. Our previous meetings have always taken place in Your Excellency’s office at the Hofburg, so it is an honor, on this occasion, to be able to repay your kind hospitality.
Political relationship between OFID and Austria
OFID has enjoyed extremely cordial and fruitful relations with the Austrian Government − and the City of Vienna − ever since its establishment in 1976. Indeed, a look back down the years reveals numerous examples of this special relationship. Allow me to recall just a few:
- In 1976, HE Bruno Kreisky signed the OFID Headquarters Agreement.
- Five years later, in 1981, HE Dr. Rudolf Kirchschläger, Federal President of Austria from 1974 - 1986 joined in OFID’s 5th anniversary celebrations of OFID at the Hofburg and was a guest at our Ministerial meeting.
- Dr. Kirchschläger was also present at the opening ceremony of the Seminar on OPEC AID that was organized on the occasion of OFID’s 10th anniversary in 1986.
- In September 1995, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner attended the farewell party at OFID Headquarters for HE Osama Faqih, who was Chairman of OFID’s Governing Board for 13 years.
- OFID had the pleasure to welcome yet another Federal President to its Headquarters in October 2002, when HE Thomas Klestil attended the Second Islamic Book Fair, hosted on our premises.
- And in January this year, OFID was delighted to welcome Mag. Dr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, Vienna's Executive City Councilor for Cultural Affairs and Science, on the occasion of the launch of the book about our magnificent HQ building.
- Personally, I have had the great honor of being invited to the government offices in the Hofburg on various occasions. In addition to the meetings with Your Excellency, I also had the pleasure in July 2008 of meeting with Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, who was highly supportive of our institution, and on several occasion with Foreign minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger.
OFID’s commitment to Austria throughout 36 years:
OFID has supported the work of various Austrian NGOs in developing countries. Over the last decade or so, this support has strengthened considerably. Among the most important Austrian NGOs we have partnered with are: Hilfswerk Austria, Care Austria, Doctors for Disabled, SOS Kinderdorf, and the Society for Austro-Arab Relations. Since the year 2000, our contribution to Austrian NGOs has amounted to over US$4 million.
To demonstrate its solidarity with its host community, OFID has also supported many programs within Austria:
- SOS Kinderdorf received the OFID Annual Award for Development in 2007.
- OFID is one of the founding sponsors of Superar, the social initiative launched in 2009 by the Wiener Konzerhaus, Caritas and the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
- OFID has sponsored and participated in the Vienna City Marathon since 2008. Indeed the VCM has become one of most popular dates in our corporate calendar
- OFID has collaborated with the Austrian Foreign Ministry on several occasions; for example, for the Conference on Europe and the Arab World; and for the First Arab European Young Leaders Forum (AEYLF).
- It was also our pleasure last year to participate in the annual Tag des Denkmals, when we proudly opened our doors to the visiting public in association with the Federal Monuments Office. I am pleased to say that we will participate in this important event again this year.
- The life and times of this beautiful building are described in our recently published book “Theophil Hansen’s Palace for Archduke Wilhelm”. After 18 months of collaboration with various Austrian historians, art historians and other specialists, it was our pleasure to present this book to the City and People of Vienna as a token of our gratitude for their enduring hospitality and friendship.
- Last, but by no means least, I should mention the large cadre of Austrians among OFID’s staff. Numbering 76, they account for almost one-half of our employees and represent an important bridge between the institution and its host country. Your Excellency’s visit today is without doubt especially meaningful for our Austrian colleagues. Be sure, however, that it is also very important for the whole OFID family.