Culture, Media, Science
Ursula Plassnik is Austria’s new Foreign Minister
On 20 October 2004, Ursula Plassnik, member of the People’s Party (ÖVP), was officially appointed as the 15th foreign minister of the Second Republic. After Plassnik had been sworn in by Federal President Heinz Fischer, the inaugural ceremony took place in the Foreign Ministry, where the long-term Cabinet chief of Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and short-term ambassador in Bern succeeded EU Commissioner designate Ferrero-Waldner.
In programmatic terms, Plassnik pledges continuity and is committed to Austria’s neutrality. She stated that among the priorities of her future work were the further development of the Regional Partnership, the ratification of the EU Constitution as well as preparations for Austria’s EU Presidency in the first six months of 2006. Moreover, the new Foreign Minister advocated accession talks between the EU and Turkey with an “open-ended negotiation result“.
Her first official appointment was a short meeting with Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who was paying a state visit to Austria.
Chancellor Schüssel presented his new Foreign Minister at a special session of the Nationalrat (Lower House of Parliament) on 21 October 2004. She was welcomed by all parties that expressed their confidence in her. The chairmen of the four parliamentary groups attested to her excellent qualifications for the new job.
“The highest credit we can attribute to anyone is that of trust“, Schüssel quoted Luther, with whose teachings his former Cabinet chief had made him familiar. Plassnik had “a wealth of competence, experience, knowledge and many personal abilities qualifying her for this office“, said Schüssel.
In her first speech to Parliament, Plassnik presented herself as a passionate European praising the advantages of EU membership under the motto “for an Austria open to the world and for a world open to Austria“. Plassnik invited all parties, social partners, federal provinces and NGOs to get involved in foreign policy. Austria only had one voice that would be heard the better the more unified it was.
The jurist and diplomat gathered extensive political experience above all as the long-term Cabinet chief of Federal Chancellor Schüssel (1997 to 2004). After 1981 she had been active in the Foreign Ministry representing Austria in the Council of Europe and OSCE. She then became the top officer responsible for coordinating EU affairs in the Foreign Ministry. In 1997 she was appointed Cabinet chief of the then Foreign Minister Schüssel. ■
Federal Chancellor Schüssel for the integration of refugees
In his statement at the conclusion of the three-day federal congress of the People’s Party (ÖVP) in Alpbach, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel addressed the topical issue of the accommodation of asylum seekers. “It would really hurt me if we were unable to integrate, accommodate, feed and care for 30,000 refugees in an eight-million country without major problems”, said Schüssel. He reminded of the fact that out of Austria’s eight million inhabitants one million had not been born here. The individual Austrian had to be thanked for this successful integration. ■
Schüssel: new Pension Act guarantees sustainable pensions
The Council of Ministers adopted the harmonisation of pension systems on 12 October 2004, as planned. The general Pension Act entering into force on 1 January 2005 will apply to all those aged under 50. Pension credits acquired before that date will remain valid.
“This Act guarantees sustainable pensions”, stressed Chancellor Schüssel in the subsequent press conference. It provided for individual pension accounts that were guaranteed by the state and yielded interest. In the future the annual increase of pensions would be index-linked.
Advantages of the system mentioned by the Federal Chancellor were more pension credits for child-raising periods and the promotion of independent old-age provision for women. “With this, we have considerably raised the status of the family”, said Schüssel. Full credit would be given to unemployment assistance periods. As requested by the social partners, supplementary rules for heavy workers and a corridor solution for retirement were introduced. The long-term insured could retire at the age of 55/60 without deductions (max. 5%). until 2010. ■
Israeli President Katsav pays state visit to Austria
Israeli State President Moshe Katsav arrived for a four-day state visit in Vienna on 19 October 2004. In the history of the two countries this was the first official visit of an Israeli President to Austria. Katsav was accompanied by his wife Gila.
Items on the political agenda were inter alia talks with Federal President Heinz Fischer, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, EU Commissioner designate Benita Ferrero-Waldner as well as Austria’s new Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, President of Austria’s Lower House of Parliament Andreas Khol and Vienna’s Mayor Michael Häupl.
Both sides explained that problems in the bilateral relations were a thing of the past and referred to the “great symbolic value” of the visit.
Federal President Fischer emphasised that the official Austria totally rejected “any form of anti-Semitism” and clearly confessed to sharing responsibility for the crimes during the NS regime. He highlighted the process of gradual rapprochement, which had been started in 1993 with a visit of former Chancellor Franz Vranitzky to Israel. Today there were “friendly bilateral relations”, said Fischer.
The Federal President condemned terrorism and called upon Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Austria and the EU were convinced that a permanent solution could be found only by negotiating.
Katsav explained that Europe had to understand “that Israel had the right to defend the security of its citizens“. They were not fighting against the Palestinian people, who also suffered under the terror. “We fight terrorism”, stressed Katsav and pointed out that Israel was still committed to the roadmap to peace by the UN, EU, USA and Russia.
The Israeli President explicitly thanked Austria for condemning any form of anti-Semitism but also pleaded for combating the “new anti-Semitism”. The political and diplomatic relations between Austria and Israel had “developed well”, said Katsav.
Katsav stressed the significance of his visit to Austria also at a meeting with Federal Chancellor Schüssel. In the talks with the Austrian political leadership he had gained the impression of a “deep friendship” between the two countries.
Schüssel described Katsav’s visit as “historic”. The state of Israel could not be compared to any other. The realisation of Theodor Herzl’s vision was in fact the prerequisite for “preventing the monstrosities of the Holocaust in the future”. The Federal Chancellor underlined that Israel and Europe shared the same basic values, rules and philosophy.
During his stay in Vienna, Israel’s President also paid visits to the Jewish Religious Community in Vienna as well as the former concentration camp Mauthausen and the Holo¬caust memorial at Vienna's Judenplatz. ■
Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen met with Chancellor Schüssel
Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel in Vienna on 22 October 2004. Both appealed to the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to approve the proposed European Commission selected by Commission President elect Jose Manuel Durao Barroso. Barroso had already shown flexibility, now it was the turn of the MEPs to give a “clear signal” and “to lend strong support” to Barroso’s team. The new Commission should benefit from “trust in advance”, said Schüssel. ■
Hungary’s Prime Minister Gyurcsány pays visit to Vienna
His first official trip abroad led the new Hungarian Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány, to Vienna on 11 October 2004, where he met with Federal President Heinz Fischer, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and President of Nationalrat (Lower House of Parliament) Andreas Khol. The meeting with Federal Chancellor Schüssel focused on the Regional Partnership and economic issues. “This visit underlines the excellent bilateral relations between Austria and Hungary“, emphasised Schüssel. According to the Austrian Federal Chancellor, Hungary’s support of a EURATOM Treaty Revision Conference was highly important. ■
Council of Ministers adopted the budgets for 2005 and 2006
The Council of Ministers adopted the double budget for 2005 and 2006 on 12 October 2004. “The two budgets are the political work of this parliamentary term translated into figures. We have succeeded in considerably decreasing the overall tax ratio and thus in achieving a real tax relief for everybody. The people should see that a future-oriented, serious and belt-tightening policy pays off”, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel told reporters.
The Federal Chancellor emphasised that future-oriented investments in the development of infrastructure, research and education was strongly supported by the Federal Government. On the expenditure side, costs in the public sector have been reduced by administrative and structural reforms. “We have cut expenditure but still provided stimuli where necessary“, said Schüssel. Examples mentioned by him were the disaster relief after the flood and the growth package during the economic trough. The result was a tangible growth effect. Economic researchers had forecast a real economic growth of 2% for this year and of 2.5% for 2005. According to Schüssel, clear signals of a favourable economic development are the low unemployment rates of residents, the creation of 30,000 new jobs (compared to the prior-year level) and the sharp increase of the export ratio.
The Federal Government expected the tax relief measures to provide additional impetus to the economy after 1 January 2005, strengthening mass purchasing power and private consumption, stated Schüssel.
Minister of Finance Karl-Heinz Grasser showed himself also pleased with the 2005 federal draft budget. “We have managed to square the circle in fiscal policy“, he stressed in his budget speech to the Lower House of Parliament on 13 October 2004. The deficit would climb to 1.9% of the GDP but that was only due to the fact that the government had adopted two economic stimulation programmes. “Without them we would have a balanced budget“, said Grasser.
The deficit of the Federal Government will increase from 3.4 billion euro this year to more than 5.1 billion euro. The expenditure will total 64 billion euro and the revenue will amount to 58.9 billion euro. This corresponds to a deficit for the entire state of 1.9% (including surpluses of the federal provinces and communities). For 2006 Grasser planned a deficit of 1.7%, while a zero deficit is to be reached again in 2008.
The overall tax ratio would decrease to 41.7% already in 2005 and drop to 40.6% in 2006, assured the Minister of Finance. ■
Mexican Minister for Economic Affairs Canales pays visit to Austria
Following an invitation by his Austrian counterpart Martin Bartenstein, Mexican Minister for Economic Affairs Fernando Canales Clariond arrived in Austria on 21 October 2004 for a two-day official visit. The main topics discussed were, besides bilateral affairs, preparations for the EU – Latin America Summit in 2006 under the Austrian EU Presidency and topical WTO issues.
Both Ministers also participated in the closing ceremony of the 12th Eurochambres annual conference at Vienna’s Hofburg, which this year was under the motto “A Competitive Europe in a Global World“ and had been opened by Federal President Heinz Fischer.
The domestic exports to Mexico recorded a plus of more than 10% last year, reaching an all-time high of almost 170 million euro. ■
Austrian Bauholding Strabag is the “first Societas Europaea“
After registering under European law on 12 October 2004, the Austrian Bauholding Strabag became the first “European Company” (Societas Europaea, SE – a new legal form of commercial entity facilitating cross-border mergers and holding companies). However, not the time factor was important but the fact “that we want to be a European building group”, explained Strabag boss Hans-Peter Haselsteiner to media representatives.
According to him, Strabag – currently Europe’s third-largest construction group – is to become Europe’s number one, with the future markets being located in Eastern Europe. This year the group is expected to increase the construction work performed to 6 billion euro, with about 31,500 employees all over Europe and a result of “at least the prior-year level” (123 million euro), Haselsteiner stated optimistically. ■
Austria intensifies relations with China, Korea and Mongolia
Minister of Education Elisabeth Gehrer recently paid visits to China and Mongolia with a comprehensive cultural, scientific and political mission.
On 18 October 2004, Gehrer opened the Austrian Cultural Forum in Beijing, the 29th and most recent institution of this kind. Two years ago a Cultural Forum had been inaugurated in Belgrade. Thus Austria has its own institution to administer and coordinate cultural and scientific projects in the growth region China. On the occasion of her visit to the People’s Republic of China in November 2003, Austria’s former Foreign Minister and EU Commissioner designate Benita Ferrero-Waldner had explicitly emphasised the importance of an intensified cultural and scientific exchange between China and Austria. Now that the Cultural Forum in Beijing has been opened, the heightened expectations in the field of cultural and scientific exchange between the two countries can be met with an adequate infrastructure. Moreover, this gives rise to the hope that China will strengthen its cultural presence in Austria. The new Cultural Forum will not only cater for the People’s Republic of China but also the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and for Mongolia. The inauguration is accompanied by presentations of Austrian art and culture. The photographer and concept artist Robert F. Hammerstiel presents his show “Made by Nature“ in the Forbidden City. The Vienna String Soloists (“Wiener Streichersolisten”) perform at Beijing’s International Music Festival. For 2005 a music festival in Beijing with ensembles from countries of the “Platform Culture – Central Europe” is planned. Furthermore, the large-scale exhibition “New abstract painting in Austria after 1950“ will be presented in Chinese mega-cities like Beijing and Shanghai as a common project of the Secretariat of State for the Arts and Austria’s Foreign Ministry. A reading tour of Austrian authors through China will be organised in response to the current boom of the Austrian literature, that has been experienced after the Noble Prize was awarded to Elfriede Jelinek. Gehrer asked Chinese State Councillor and former Minister of Education Chen Zhili to support the documentary film of the series “Universum” produced by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) about China’s mountains, valleys, rivers and deserts”, which the film company Interspot wants to shoot on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. Chen Zhili stressed that she would lend her personal support to the project. At the same time, she expressed her hope that the Austrian Presidency in the first half-year 2006 would support China’s call for a mechanism facilitating the observation of developments of the EU.
Gehrer and her Chinese counterpart Zhou Ji concluded an agreement about the mutual recognition of university studies in Beijing. China is the first non-European state with which Austria entered in an agreement of this kind. It will enable students of both countries to do parts of their studies in the other country and to have these study periods credited at their home universities or technical universities.
At Beijing University Gehrer opened the first international conference of the educational network “Eurasia-Pacific-Uninet“ initiated in the year 2000. At this conference the university network was extended to more than 50 partner institutions (universities, technical universities, etc.) from Taiwan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, China and Austria. The aim of this cooperation is promote the academic, economic and cultural relations between the participating states, to initiate and support research projects, to exchange researchers and students – inter alia at summer schools in Asia and Austria – as well as to develop common curricula with double degrees. On the part of Austria, the interest in cooperation with the participating countries has been very great. Almost all universities are represented in the network.
In Ulan Bator Gehrer met with Mongolian Prime Minister Elbegdorj Tsakhia and Minister of Education and Science Puntsag Tsagaan. Another item on her agenda was the donation of books to a school, an “Austria reading hall” at the state university and the opening of an exhibition of the Austrian artist Ona B. Furthermore, the Minister attended the premiere of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni“ at the opera of Ulan Bator, produced by director Paul Flieder and organised with the support of Kultur Service GmbH (ÖKS). ■
Egypt and Austria signed Memorandum of Understanding
At the Nile Delta Conference in Cairo Minister of Education Elisabeth Gehrer underlined the excellent cooperation in the sphere of science and humanities between Egypt and Austria. The conference was organised by the Austrian Archaeological Institute (Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut/ÖAI) on the occasion of its 30th anniversary. It was titled “The Nile delta and its contribution to Egyptian civilisation“. Scholars and experts held lectures on the latest research results. Gehrer expressed her special thanks to Dr. Zahy Hawas, Chairman of the Egyptian Administration of Antiquities, who like his predecessor had been fully committed to promoting the activities of the Institute.
Gehrer also met with Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazif, with the State Minister for Military Production responsible for vocational training, Dr. Sayed Meshal, and the Minister in charge of university affairs, Dr. Amr Salama. In the talks opportunities for intensified cooperation between Austria and Egypt were explored. Moreover, a memoran¬dum of understanding providing for intensified cooperation in the sphere of vocational training was signed. The representatives of the Egyptian government expressed their interest inter alia in a know-how transfer in the field of construction, plastics and environmental and information technologies as well as the educational concept of the Austrian higher technical colleges (HTL). The next steps of cooperation will be taken during the official visit of Minister Meshal to Austria in December. ■
Morak supports “Central & Eastern European Music Theatres“
The association “Central & Eastern European (CEE) Music Theatres“, a common initiative of the Cultural Foundation of Deutsche Bank, the Secretariat of State for Arts and Media of the Republic of Austria and Vienna’s State Opera was presented to the public on 22 October 2004. Its main goal is the promotion of music theatres in Central and Eastern Europe. The support of young talented singers, the intensification of exchange and cooperation among the individual opera houses as well as targeted sponsoring of activities are priorities. So far 18 young singers of opera houses in Belgrade (Serbia and Montenegro), Chisinau (Moldova), Skoplje (Macedonia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Temesvar (Romania), Tirana (Albania) and Zagreb (Croatia) have benefited from the scholarship programme. Other talents from the opera houses of Bucharest (Romania) and Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina) are to follow. As Franz Morak explained, the support programme “aimed at a concrete and sustainable cooperation with the countries of South Eastern and Central Europe. The diversity of the programme ensured a comprehensive and practice-oriented support of the music theatre scene in these countries”. Cross-border dialogue is to be intensified also by scholarship holders supporting the production teams of the opera houses in the spheres of stage direction, dramaturgy, conducting and commercial management, where required. ■
Festival “Wien Modern 2004”
The festival “Wien Modern 2004” is presented at 13 locations in Vienna and surroundings from 28 October to 30 November 2004, offering about 60 events. The concerts, performances, talks and lectures focus on John Cage and Olga Neuwirth. The festival also dedicates a project to Alfred Schnittke on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Moreover, the Italian composer Fausto Romitelli, who recently died at the age of 41, is presented for the first time in Austria. A festival special for children, teenagers and young adults at Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier is titled “Jungle Wien Modern“. Numerous international artists will participate, e.g. the Arditti String Quartet, the Arma Gamelan Group, Jérôme Bel, Bertrand de Billy, Marino Formenti, frankfurter küche leipzig, Das Erste Wiener Gemüseorchester, Ictus Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica, Thomas Larcher, Margaret Leng Tan, Oleg Maisenberg, Ensemble Modern, ensemble on_line vienna, Pannonisches Blasorchester, Emilio Pomárico, the ensemble recherche, RSO Wien and many others. A total of about 200 works of more than 70 international composers is performed, for instance by Peter Ablinger, Georges Aperghis, Luciano Berio, Harrison Birtwistle, George Brecht, Christopher Fox, Reinhard Fuchs, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Nam June Paik, Giacinto Scelsi, Arnold Schönberg, Johannes Maria Staud and Jennifer Walshe. The venues include Wiener Konzerthaus, Musikverein, Haus Wittgenstein, Schömer-Haus and the University of Music. ■
Chancellor Schüssel opens “Visions of America“ at the Essl Collection
Contemporary US art from the 1950s to the present from the Essl Collection and the Sonnabend Collection (New York) – “Visions of America“ – is on show until 6 March 2005 at the impressive museum in Klosterneuburg near Vienna, which had been designed by Heinz Tesar for the Essel Collection. 130 works of pop art, minimal and concept art, e.g. by Richard Artschwager, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman, Robert Rauschenberg, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, are presented. The exhibition was opened by Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, who paid tribute inter alia to Karlheinz and Agnes Essl for their commitment to modern art, which was extremely valuable for the reception of art in Austria. ■
Prospects in an enlarged Europe: ethnic groups’ congress in Carinthia
The role of ethnic groups in the enlarged Europe was the topic of the European Congress of Ethnic Groups in Carinthia held recently in Feistritz (Carinthia). The congress was opened by Secretary of State for the Arts Morak and also addressed issues like the protection of minorities and the situation of the Roma. As Governor Jörg Haider explained, it was Carinthia’s aim to present itself in Europe jointly with Slovenia and the Upper Italian regions, therefore the foundation of a European region “Euregio“ was planned. The ethnic groups in these countries played an “important and decisive role”. Experts from Germany, Slovenia, Hungary, Estonia and Austria lectured about different aspects of ethnic groups. ■
Viennale 2004: includes interesting films by Austrian film directors
Running still until 27 October, Viennale – the Vienna International Film Festival – shows a total of 298 films from 44 countries. Austria contributes spectacular works such as Joerg Burger’s portrait “In Wirklichkeit ist alles ganz anders – Der Filmemacher Wilhelm Gaube“ and a number of interesting feature films, documentaries and short films such as Hans Weingartner’s drama presented previously in Cannes “Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei“ and Hubert Sauper’s globalisation essay “Dawin’s Nightmare“ awarded a prize at the Venice film festival. The Viennese production company Amour Fou shows short films such as Thomas Woschitz’ “The Josef Trilogy“ and “Preserving Cultural Traditions in a Period of Instability“, reflections about the value of digital images. A remarkable work is Lotte Schreiber’s “I.E.[site01-isole eolie]“, a poetic approximation to the Aeolian Islands in Italy (e.g. based on video recordings). ■
Kunsthalle wien: “Sculpture“ and “Africa Screams“
Kunsthalle wien is presenting the exhibition “Sculpture. Precarious Realism between the Melancholic and the Comic“ until 20 February 2005. The sculptures seem to defy decency and to care little about the correct reproduction of reality. The works by the historic pioneers Medardo Rosso and Alighiero Boetti are juxtaposed with fantastic sculptures full of melancholy and comic elements by contemporary artists, from Lynda Benglis and Thomas Schütte to Franz West and Erwin Wurm.
The exhibition “Africa Screams“ explores old and new mythologies of Africa and is on show also at Kunsthalle (until 30 January 2005). With the triumph of video technology more and more fantastic images and stories are created, that also present the drawbacks of the modern age: the proliferation of occult economies, witchcraft and zombie cults. This is the first exhibition trying to depict the history of art and culture of horror in the mirror of contemporary art. ■
Vienna: “Month of Photography“
The “Month of Photography” used to be a Parisian event. This year Vienna and Berlin have been invited by Paris to participate in the Biennial, making November the “European Month of Photography“. ■
“Fit for Austria“: quality seal for organised sport
By signing the framework agreement between the Republic of Austria and the Austrian Federal Sport Organisation (Österrei¬chische Bundes-Sportorganisation /BSO), the quality seal “Fit for Austria“ was launched at the House of Sport on 13 October 2004. Secretary of State for Sports Karl Schweitzer and Franz Löschnak, President of BSO, expressed their thanks for the excellent cooperation with the umbrella organisations ASKÖ, ASVÖ and SPORTUNION and showed themselves pleased about this common milestone in sports and health policy. “’Fit for Austria’ should establish itself as a quality guarantee in organised sports and raise the prestige of mass sport in Austria”, stressed Schweitzer. The exercise programmes and sport associations marked with the quality seal guaranteed a high and uniform quality to people looking for physical exercise programmes across Austria. For there were mandatory quality criteria (qualified supervision by professionally trained and officially recognised trainers and instructors having undergone advanced health training; practice-oriented and scientifically founded programme planning, etc.). Programmes marked with the quality seal are based on the preventive effects of physical exercise and are thus another step to cut costs in the health sector. ■
Sport as the “winner“ of the budgets 2005/2006
The probably greatest success for sport in 2004 was the abolition of the ceiling for funding the special federal sport promotion scheme. Hence, in the future 3% of the sales revenues of the Austrian Lotteries (with a minimum amount of 40 million euro) will become available. Compared to the previous year, this corresponds to an increase by 2.8 million euro (plus 7%), stated Schweitzer.
For 2005/2006 the general sport promotion scheme allocates 5 million euro to investments and earmarks 10 million euro for other subsidies (mass sport events, sport medicine, training, promotion of women and young talents, etc.). In addition, the 2004 Budget Accompanying Act provides for investments in stadiums for the European Football Championship (EURO) 2008 of annually 15 million euro in the period 2004 to 2006. “This very far-reaching decision is a signal and at the same time confirms the upward trend of sport in Austria. It is also an excellent basis for top-level and mass sports”, concluded Schweitzer at the Budget Committee meeting in Parliament. ■
Linz: “Athletes of the Year“ elected at Lotteries’ “Gala Night of Sport”
At a gala night perfectly organised by Sporthilfe manager Toni Schutti in cooperation with Sports Media Austria about 1,500 guests celebrated the “Athletes of the Year 2004“. The award – a 60cm statue from steel, brass and bronze – was presented to the athletes by Secretary of State for Sports Schweitzer, Friedrich Stickler and Leo Wallner. Metal mesh taking the form of a human body symbolises the symbioses between body, culture and environment. 226 members of the Austrian Association of Sport Journalists had selected the trophy winners. Markus Rogan was the first swimmer to be honoured in the competition held since 1949. He outshone the ski stars Hermann Maier and Stephan Eberharter, who was granted a special award for his sensational and unique career. For the second time since 2000 the “Team of the Year“ became the gold-winning sailing duo Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher. The clear selection of the triathlon Olympia winner Kate Allen as the “Female Athlete of the Year” was also very impressive. Wheelchair user Thomas Geierspichler (e.g. gold for the 1,500m race) and Andrea Scherney (world record in long jump) received the awards “Disabled Athletes of the Year”. Dressage rider Patrick Wurzrainer was selected “best representative of the Special Olympics 2004”. ■