AACC holds its Extraordinary Session of the 32nd General Assembly Meeting & 33rd Board of Directors Meeting to Elect a New President
16 May 2023 – Vienna, Austria
On 16 May 2023, AACC held its extraordinary session of the “32nd General Assembly Meeting” together with the “33rd Board of Directors Meeting” at Palais Eschenbach in Vienna and simultaneously online (hybrid) to elect a new president. The meeting was led by AACC Secretary-General Eng. Mouddar Khouja and marked by the participation of over 80 persons from all over the world, including high-level officials, presidents and secretaries general of Arab chambers, Arab ambassadors, diplomats and businesspersons, who joined both, in person and online.
AACC Founder and Arab President H.E. KR Nabil Kuzbari commenced the meeting by warmly welcoming the participants, after which he handed over to Secretary-General Khouja, who also welcomed the attendees and paid a tribute to AACC’s late President Sen. Dr. Richard Schenz, who held this function devotedly since 2010. The tribute was followed by a minute of silence in memoriam of the deceased.
Later, SG Khouja presented AACC’s President Designate H.E. Dr. Werner Fasslabend, a renowned Austrian politician, who served as former Austrian Minister of Defence and Third President of the Austrian National Assembly and is currently President of the Austrian Institute for European & Security Policy (AIES), Head of the Academic Council of the Wilfred Martens Center for European Studies in Brussels, President of Universitätszentrum Wien and President of the Austrian-Slovak Society. He also has received several prestigious badges of honour over the years, such as “The Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold on Ribbon for Services to the Republic of Austria”, “the Military Merit Medal” and other decorations from Belgium, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Spain. Dr. Fasslabend’s close connection to AACC is not entirely new; in fact, it goes back to many years ago, and a major highlight of it was the Sudan Conference in 2012, one of the biggest events that AACC has organised.
The election of the President was then carried out by the Board of Directors, and approved unanimously by the General Assembly.
After the election process, AACC’s newly-elected H.E. Dr. Werner Fasslabend delivered his remarks, whereby he expressed his honour to be addressing the attendees in his capacity as AACC President and to actively advance Austro-Arab relations, after which he provided an overview of Austria’s economic situation and trade volume with the world and the Arab region. While considering that the global situation was still a challenging one, President Fasslabend said that he was looking with optimism towards the future. He stressed the significance and closeness of the MENA region and its relevance to Austria and the European Union as immediate neighbors and partners. With Austria as a reliable partner offering a stable and solid environment and stable banking system, and the MENA region with its huge human resources, emerging regions and natural properties, there is great potential for cooperation and partnerships, he explained.
The newly-elected President closed his speech by affirming that he was looking forward to the cooperation with AACC, its Founding Father Mr. Nabil Kuzbari and his family, the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, Their Excellencies the Arab Ambassadors, the esteemed members and representatives.
In his capacity as the Current President of the Arab Ambassadors Council, H.E. Dr. Haitham Abu Alfoul, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to Austria, also expressed his sincere appreciation of the abilities and personality of the newly-elected President, and stated that his election would open a new chapter for the AACC. At the same time, he paid tribute to the late President Senator Dr. Richard Schenz and his to advancing Austro – Arab relations and partnerships, who would always be remembered with affection. While speaking about the global challenges in the past and present, the Ambassador also stressed on the significant role and engagement of the AACC to provide its support, relations and services even in times of crises and pandemic. He concluded his statement by conveying the greetings of the President of the Jordan Chamber of Commerce and by confirming the readiness of the Arab Ambassadors Council to support and organize joint events and exhibitions for Arab states in Austria and vice-versa.
H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Samir Koubaa, Head of Mission of the League of Arab States in Vienna, congratulated H.E. Dr. Fasslabend on his election and welcomed him in the Chamber while wishing him the utmost.
AACC Vice-President Mag. Maria Mittermair congratulated AACC for the election of the new president and assured that the late President Dr. Richard Schenz would be proud of the efforts and support at this meeting.
The Secretary General of AACC proceeded to presenting his report, where he elaborated on the latest updates and figures pertaining to the Chamber’s status and delivered the financial report on behalf of AACC Treasurer Mr. Wolfgang Kaburek. He also asked Dr. Farah Abu-Jurji, AACC member and legal counsel, to present an overview on the suggested amendments to the AACC statutes, which were approved by the General Assembly without dissenting voice. The Auditor Report was presented by Mr. Albert Kronberger, who certified that he examined the bookkeeping of the AACC and the AACC Wirtschaftsservices GmbH.
Towards the end of the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Council of Slovak Exporters, a business platform composed of private entities, was signed by the Council’s Chairman Mr. Lukas Parizek, Former State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, and the newly elected AACC President Former Minister Dr. Werner Fasslabend. In his statement, Mr. Parizek thanked AACC for this opportunity and said that he was looking forward to the future cooperation between the two entities. President Fasslabend, on his turn, stressed on the strong historical relations and ties between the cities of Vienna and Bratislava since the time of the Habsburg monarchy, and welcomed the Council as a new strategic partner for the future.
As another guest of honour, Prince Alfred von Liechtenstein was also invited to present the International Peace Foundation as its Chairman, as well as his exclusive Almdorf Chalets, a worldwide unique Eco resort located in the UNESCO biosphere park Nockberge.
To conclude the extraordinary sessions of the General Assembly & Board of Directors Meeting, the Secretary General thanked the AACC Team who worked hard to organise these meetings, as well as the distinguished speakers and audience who joined either in-person or virtually from all over the globe.
AACC’s new company member Momen Food generously sponsored the Networking Lunch Buffet, while AACC’s other new company member Urjouwan Levantine Gourmet Boutique offered a sample tasting of traditional Lebanese delicacies.