Vienna, 5. December 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner: "Balkan region will remain the focus of Austrian peace missions"

05.12.2003

Vienna, 5 December 2003 - The Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Euroatlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) had above all addressed the contemporary challenges facing the EAPC as a result of the utilisation of new partnership instruments as well as the emergence of new threat scenarios, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said today. "First of all I made it clear that Austria attaches considerable importance to regular high-level political consultations between the EAPC states", stated the Foreign Minister.

In her address to the Meeting, the Foreign Minister explained to the EAPC partners that Austria's participation in peace missions would continue to focus on the Balkan region. "Austria is currently endeavouring to effect a step-by-step build-up of her SFOR contingent in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as intensifying her KFOR commitment in Kosovo. Austria also supports the efforts of Belgrade and Sarajevo to participate in the EAPC, and to this end we are acting as co-organiser of a seminar designed by our Slovenian friends on the subject of democratic control of the armed forces in Belgrade", Ferrero-Waldner said.

At the same time, the Foreign Minister emphasised that Austria is also aware of the fact that threats such as terrorism, trafficking in drugs and human beings and flows of refugees also make it necessary for us to show a commitment outside Europe, in the places where such developments have their origin. "If we are not in a position to export security, we might see ourselves confronted with the problem of importing insecurity. I, therefore, pointed out that the Austrian Federal Army intends to dispatch further liaison officers to Kabul within the framework of ISAF. In doing so we are following the example of other non-allied states such as Finland, Sweden and Switzerland", continued Ferrero-Waldner.