Ferrero-Waldner reassured Foreign Minister Svilanović of Austria’s full support on Serbia and Montenegro’s path towards the European Union
Vienna, 23 July 2003 - "Since the democratic change almost three years ago, the bilateral relations between Austria and the Union of Serbia and Montenegro have not only become very intensive but are also free of problems", Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner confirmed at the joint press conference following the working discussion with her counterpart from Serbia and Montenegro Goran Svilanovic. The two foreign ministers had already met one year ago for a discussion in Belgrade.
"I expressed my appreciation to Foreign Minister Svilanovic for the fact that Serbia and Montenegro lifted the visa obligation for citizens of the EU and other countries at the end of May 2003. This represented a very important step for Austria too, and will be of great advantage to our bilateral economic relations", Ferrero-Waldner pointed out, adding that concrete Austrian business projects in the region as well as the establishment of a business council were also addressed at today’s meeting.
Naturally the approximation of Serbia and Montenegro to the European Union represented one of the central topics on the discussion’s agenda. Austria, together with Italy and Greece, is one of those countries which have given particular support to Serbia and Montenegro in this respect, both with a view to her candidacy for the Council of Europe and in the process leading to the preparation of a feasibility study by the European Commission on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. Moreover, during her year in the OSCE chair Austria successfully supported the accession of Serbia and Montenegro to the OSCE.
"Foreign Minister Svilanovic assured me that the government of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro will continue with its reform programme. The European perspective offered to the country gives an additional impetus to this reform process, though this cannot be completed overnight. But Austria will continue to accompany and support Serbia and Montenegro and the reforms pursued by her new generation of politicians on the road towards the European Union", Ferrero-Waldner emphasised.
"Since 2001 Austria has granted approximately EUR 6.4 million in development funds to Serbia and Montenegro under Austria’s cooperation with the East programme", the Austrian Foreign Minister stated, assuring that she will advocate a further increase in these funds for Serbia and Montenegro for the year 2004. The focus will be on projects in the fields of water management, environment, education and tourism. In 2004 Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner will pay another visit to the region, which will also serve to make concrete preparations for further projects in the fields of business, employment and tourism.