Kiev, 6 June 2003 -Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner arrived in the Ukraine yesterday for a two-day bilateral working visit. The programme included a visit to the city of Lvov, where the Minister delivered a paper entitled "Austria and the Ukraine in Europe" at the Ivan Franko University. Talks with Foreign Minister Slenko, President Kuchma, Prime Minister Janukovych and Speaker of Parliament Lytvyn were scheduled for today.
At a press conference held after the talks, Ferrero-Waldner emphasised the necessity of establishing as close a relationship as possible between the Ukraine and the European Union in the context of the "New Neighbour" Initiative. Austria already maintains close political contacts with the Ukraine, as reflected, inter alia, in numerous inter-ministerial agreements, in Austria's support for the admission of Ukraine into the Central European Initiative or the European Conference.
The European Union and European security issues constituted the focal items on the agenda of the talks. "It is particularly important that we take concerted action - as European partners - to address new potential dangers such as terrorism, drugs, human trafficking and money laundering. I was assured that the Ukraine will co-operate closely with Austria on these issues," Ferrero-Waldner said. "Austria wants to see the Ukraine firmly embedded in the greater European region."
The Foreign Minister expressed her concern about the situation with regard to the freedom of the media as an essential aspect of human rights. "A further rapprochement might be accomplished in the course of the realisation of the "New Neighbour" Initiative. In this context we expect the Ukraine - as a European partner country - to follow the goals and standards of the European structures."
Asked about the bilateral economic relations, Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner stated, "Austria is among the ten largest foreign investors. The potential and the willingness to invest exist, and the bilateral volume of foreign trade has increased sixfold since 1992". The swift elimination of bureaucratic obstacles and an improvement of the business environment for Austrian enterprises will enable a further increase in Austrian business activities in the Ukraine.