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Federal President Heinz Fischer inaugurates the European Year in Austria

Federal President Heinz Fischer inaugurates the European Year in Austria

The Austrian launch event of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations took place at the auditorium of the Old University in Graz on February 29th 2012.

Introduced by the Minister of Social Affairs, Rudolf Hundstorfer, the opening speech was delivered by Federal President Heinz Fischer, who pointed out that “the principle that you can recognize the quality of a society by the way it is treating its weakest members also applies to the generation issue. It is certainly true that the older generation owes a lot to the younger people, and vice versa. We need a mutual understanding, a strong cooperation and the willingness and curiosity to learn from each other".

According to Lenia Samuel, Adviser Hors Classe at the European Commission's Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, "we need to foster an active ageing culture in the European Union that includes - rather than excludes - older people".

The Regional Minister of Social Affairs from Styria, Siegfried Schrittwieser, stressed the importance of this European Year and the commitment of the region with it. “This year shows that we intensively focus on this topic Europe-wide", she said.

The Minister of Education, Family, Women and Youth from Styria, Elisabeth Grossmann, reminded that Styria already declared 2011 as the Year of Generations, so priorities in this area were already established last year. “The generation report that we created last year shows us the existing challenges: There is a gap between the generations and that is why it is important to launch new initiatives that focus on their cooperation."

Afterwards, there was a debate on the subject of “How does active ageing succeed?” which was moderated by Styrian journalist Christine Brunnsteiner. Panellists were the actress and Christiane Hörbiger; Karl Blecha, president of the Austrian Senior Citizens Council; Erich Foglar, president of the Austrian Trade Union Federation; Juergen Roth, Vice President of the Styrian Chamber of Commerce; Rosemarie Kurz, of the Department of Generation Issues, and the student Clemens Wolf.

The National Ambassadors of the year were presented during the conference. The popularity and the personal commitment to Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity of these 34 Austrian personalities will contribute extensively to deliver the message and goals of the EY 2012.

Pictures of the event are available here.