|06VIENNA442||2006-02-14 10:14:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Vienna|
1. (SBU) Summary: The UNESCO Convention on Cultural
Expressions (Convention) enjoys unanimous political support
in Austria, but the ratification process has not yet
started. In its capacity as EU President, the GoA hopes to
achieve an EU Council decision on ratification no later than
the Council of Culture Ministers on May 18-19. End Summary.
2. (SBU) According to a GoA report on its EU Presidency
work program, the Commission submitted a proposal to the EU
Council in December 2005 on ratification of the Convention.
After Council approval, the European Parliament will hold
hearings, but the Council is not bound by an EP resolution.
(Note: The EP rapporteur is the Austrian Social Democrat
Christa Prets, a hardore supporter of the Convention. End
. (SBU) Austrian State Secretary for Cultural andMedia
Affairs, Franz Morak, announced January 24 to the EP's
Cultural Committee that the GoA aims o have a Counci
decision on ratification no latr than the Council of
Culture Ministers on May 1-19. It is likely that,
following the Council dcision, the ratification process by
member stateswill accelerate.
4. (SBU) The GoA has nt yet submitted the Convention to
Parliament for ratification. Prior to adoption of the
Convention on October 20, 2005, the Austrian Parliament
unanimously adopted a very supportive resolution to the
Convention. The resolution requested that the government
"call upon the EU to take into account and safeguard the
peculiarity of culture in negotiations within the framework
of WTO and GATS, and to influence the EU to abstain from
further liberalization commitments within the WTO and GATS
that restrict cultural diversity and media pluralism."
5. (SBU) Despite the strong political support for the
Convention, the issue is very low key in Austria, with
discussions taking place only within a few anti-
globalization NGOs and cultural organizations. While the
media reported on the October 2005 meeting quite
extensively, we found only one media report since November
on this issue.
6. (SBU) Categorization according to reftel key:
I. Legislative Agenda: b) not currently on the agenda, but
likely to be introduced in 2006, and likely to pass.
II. Media attention: b) 1-2 published opinions on the
ratification (not clearly for or against).
III. Public debate: b) 1-2 NGO or other civil society
discussions since October.