Buclovice, 4. July 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner at the 4th Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Regional Partnership countries in Buchlovice

04.07.2003

Buchlovice, 4 July 2003 - Today, the six foreign ministers of the Regional Partnership countries are meeting for what is now the fourth time. Austria’s Partnership with the neighbouring EU accession candidates Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary and her "cultural neighbour" Poland was initiated by the Austrian Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner in 2001. At the invitation of Foreign Minister Svoboda, this’ year’s Partnership Conference is being held in the Czech town of Buchlovice. Last year, the ministers convened in Portoroz, Slovenia.

Today, Austrian Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner will be meeting her counterparts Kukan, Rupel, Svoboda and Cimoszewicz. Hungary is represented at the Conference by State Secretary Bársony.

The Regional Partnership was conceived as a forum for political dialogue with the aim of intensifying cross-border cooperation, notably in areas of particular significance for the upcoming EU enlargement. At this year’s meeting, the foreign ministers will be discussing topical European policy issues and perspectives, cross-border security issues as well as issues regarding the Platform for Central European International Cultural Policy.

In "effectively equal-level talks" Ferrero-Waldner will be discussing the results of the Thessaloniki European Council and the draft Constitution presented by the Convent with her counterparts, the purpose being to examine and harmonise the individual positions.

Further items on the ministers' agenda are a municipal assistance project as well as a review of the numerous activities being implemented within the context of the Platform for Central European International Cultural Policy, among them the theatre performance "Mindscape" recently staged in Athens.