Austria's President Welcoming Address to the 5th OPEC Int'l Seminar

by HE Dr. Heinz Fischer, Federal President of the Republic of Austria, Vienna, Hofburg Palace, 13 June 2012

Honourable President of the OPEC Conference,
Ministers, Mr. Secretary General,
Distinguished participants!

I am very pleased to take part in the opening of this high level International OPEC-Seminar. I very much value the efforts the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC to extend the dialogue and cooperation on energy issues.

Questions such as the need for secure and affordable energy, sustainable development and poverty eradication have become increasingly important for today's societies.

Vienna has been home to OPEC since 1965. Your organisation's stature and outreach have grown considerably over the decades. In 2010, Vienna was honoured by being the venue of your 50th anniversary celebrations. On that occasion, you also inaugurated your new premises in Vienna to which you had relocated your offices in 2009; premises well suited to accommodate your need for up-to-date conference facilities and sophisticated support technologies.

Vienna is a host to many key international institutions, and several of them are closely involved in energy matters. The convening of important meetings of top international decision makers and experts in our City, in discussing the energy-related challenges in today's world, are highly beneficial to Vienna's role as a center of dialogue.

Contributing to the stabilisation of global energy markets has become a main focus of your Organisation's planning and coordinating activities. Market and price volatility with its disturbing, disruptive and damaging effects on both economic growth and investment are addressed by your Organisation on a daily basis. This is even more important in today's crisis-stricken global environment which needs to recover from financial and economic turmoil.

You have chosen the avenue of engaging and promoting an enhanced dialogue between consumers and producers. There have been significant achievements, as reflected in the activities of the International Energy Forum to which OPEC is strongly committed, but also in the ongoing meaningful dialogue between OPEC and the European Union.

I am happy to underline that a number of Austrian companies have close links with OPEC Member Countries in terms of oil and gas activities, from exploration and production to refineries and petrochemicals, as well as in renewables. There are good prospects for increased co-operation under the developing schemes of new energy corridors, in accordance with the European Union's diversification strategy. Austria, as a leader in hydropower development, can also help to develop infrastructure and hydropower schemes in OPEC-Member countries.

You are also firmly committed to spreading the benefits of Petroleum. Your efforts aim at diversifying economic development and at promoting social progress both in your Member Countries and for the benefit of more disadvantaged countries and regions. This mission has been carried forward in particular through the activities of your sister organisation, the OPEC Fund for International Development OFID, which I have visited recently.

The funds mobilized since its creation in 1975 for financial assistance to more than a hundred countries and in cooperation with hundreds of organisations world-wide are really impressive.

Equally impressive is the target-oriented work of the Fund, which has more recently introduced a new and very timely key priority, namely combatting poverty especially in the field of energy. Energy being an enabling factor as a basis for health-services, education and productive activities, should become universally accessible and affordable. It is most reassuring that this aim, recently launched in the form of the UN-Secretary General's initiative "Sustainable Energy 4 ALL", is so clearly shared by a huge and powerful stakeholder organisation of energy producers, as is OPEC.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the light of these praise-worthy targets and values, let me wish you good discussions and all success to your Conference.