Freistadt, 29 October 2003 - At today’s meeting with her Czech counterpart Cyril Svoboda, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner stressed the importance of cross-border cooperation with a view to the forthcoming enlargement of the EU. "Austria and the Czech Republic cooperate very well and in a wide range of areas; it is thus a pleasure for me to meet my Czech counterpart here in Upper Austria", the Foreign Austrian Minister stated, pointing out that this good cooperation between Austria and the Czech Republic also represented the basis for a cooperation between six Central European States - Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and Germany - in the field of radiation protection.
"In my deliberations with the Czech Foreign Minister I also referred to the Austrian population’s particular sensitivity vis-à-vis nuclear power and called for the strict adherence to the Temelin roadmap in line with the agreements reached in Brussels. I also addressed the issue of not putting the plant into operation, generally known as the zero option. We deeply regret that the government of the Czech Republic is still not willing to give serious consideration to this possibility and moreover, does not intend to rule out the nuclear option in the future either," Ferrero-Waldner declared. In this connection the Austrian Foreign Minister referred to the meeting between Foreign Minister Svoboda and the Austrian Minister for Environmental Affairs, Pröll, to be held in Prague this afternoon where all issues connected with the Brussels Agreement on the Temelin nuclear power plant and particularly matters related to nuclear safety will be discussed.
Another item on the foreign ministers' agenda was the envisaged opening of a large number of new border crossing points - a measure which Ferrero-Waldner especially welcomed.
The ministers explicitly mentioned the Schöneben/Zadni Zvonkova crossing point, which was opened to pedestrians and cyclists for the first time last winter. In this context the Foreign Minister pointed out that "it would be very desirable if this crossing point could be opened again this year, well ahead of the start of the winter season - this time perhaps also for busses".
Referring to the huge importance Austria also attributes to cooperating with its neighbours in the fields of justice and home affairs, Ferrero-Waldner said that the quality of the already very intensive cooperation in this area was constantly increasing and that a bilateral agreement was being prepared.
Other items discussed at the meeting included the Regional Partnership and the Visegrad Group. "We agreed that these are initiatives of complementary character. By joining forces in partnership and pooling contacts these groupings will be able to achieve a great deal of common progress", Ferrero-Waldner concluded.