Ferrero-Waldner: "I anticipate a fruitful exchange of views at talks with Spanish counterpart prior to informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers"
Foreign Minister shocked and deeply concerned about latest wave of violence and terror
Vienna, 2 September 2004 - Prior to her talks with the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos Cuyaube, Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner expressed her sincere condolences to all those affected by the recent acts of violence and terror attacks. "The wave of violence and terror with which we are confronted fills me with profound sorrow. I severely condemn the latest attacks in Israel and am deeply concerned about the murdering of hostages and continuous abductions in Iraq, as well as about the terrible hostage-taking in Russia that is keeping us all in suspense. No claims whatsoever of a political or religious nature can justify these acts of violence."
The situation in the Middle East and Iraq will be a central topic of Ferrero-Waldner's talks with the Spanish Foreign Minister, who was the EU Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process from 1996 to 2003: "Thanks to his many years of activity in this field, my Spanish counterpart has great knowledge and experience in Middle East affairs. I am therefore anticipating a fruitful exchange of views at our talks prior to the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers, which starts tomorrow." Ferrero-Waldner emphasised that the vicious circle of repression and violence in the Middle East would have to be broken and that only a political solution could bring lasting peace. "It is therefore more important than ever to pursue the path towards a peaceful solution laid down by the Middle East Quartet in the Roadmap. The Gaza withdrawal plan can only be a first step," continued the Foreign Minister, in this context pointing to the EU's and Austria's claim that the Palestinian Authority must also initiate lasting reform measures.
On the subject of Iraq, the Minister for Foreign Affairs stated that "topmost priority must be accorded to the improvement of the security situation", the medium-term EU strategy for Iraq and UN Security Council resolution 1546 providing the framework for further activities. Ferrero Waldner added that another issue she particularly wanted to discuss with her Spanish counterpart was how the democratisation of Iraq - an essential precondition for long-term security - could best be progressed.
With a view to the Austrian EU Presidency in the first half of 2006, Federal Minister Ferrero-Waldner described the planned EU-Latin America Summit in Vienna as one of the highlights of this busy half-year: "Spain will be a privileged partner in the preparations for this important summit meeting. Austria is looking forward to this cooperation and will be all too pleased to learn and benefit from Spain's specific know-how and experience."
The Minister for Foreign Affairs also underlined the importance of the Barcelona Process within the framework of the EUROMED Partnership, which will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2005: "In my view, a central element of this Partnership is that the authorities of all the EU Member States and the states bordering the Mediterranean are working together more intensively, which should eventually result in the establishing of an institutionalised security dialogue. Only a close cooperation between the EU and the states bordering the Mediterranean will lead to long-term peace, stability and prosperity in the Mediterranean region."
According to Ferrero-Waldner, the European Constitution will be another major topic of the Foreign Ministers' talks: "The European Constitution is a milestone in the history of the European Union, as it will make the EU more efficient and democratic and strengthen its solidarity. What we have to do now is familiarise the people of Europe with the contents of this Constitution and enhance their acceptance of it, because at the end of the day the common project Europe will be carried by its citizens."
Last but not least, the Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed her pleasure that the new Spanish Foreign Minister had taken up her invitation to working talks in Vienna and emphasised the particularly good relations between Austria and Spain: "I am delighted to welcome my Spanish counterpart for our working talks and am looking forward to an interesting and fruitful exchange of views with the highly experienced Middle East expert Moratinos", said the Foreign Minister in the run-up to the visit.