Wien, 15. October 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner receives Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov

15.10.2003

Talks centre on EU-Russian relations, the strengthening of multilateral institutions and the Iraq crisis

Vienna, 15 October 2003 - "In view of the upcoming EU-Russia Summit in Rome on 6 November 2003, Austria advocates that the comprehensive partnership agreed at the EU-Russia Summit in St. Petersburg should be implemented in concrete and pragmatic steps. This applies in particular to the field of economic cooperation and with a view to building a "common area of freedom, security and justice", Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner emphasised at the joint press conference after today’s working meeting with her Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov.

"I have informed Foreign Minister Ivanov that from our Austrian viewpoint practical and concrete measures in the field of so-called 'soft security risks' - such as the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the Russian Federation, or concrete measures in the field of nuclear safety - are highly important concerns when it comes to building a "common area of freedom, security and justice," Ferrero-Waldner stated. "In respect of the visa issue we are planning to examine possibilities for a more flexible issuance of consular visas on a reciprocal basis within the framework of the Schengen regulations. This will make it easier and cheaper for Austrian citizens to obtain visas to enter the Russian Federation."

The two ministers furthermore dealt with issues relating to the reform of the UN Security Council and the strengthening of multilateral institutions. "UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration calls for a 'hard look' at the existing 'architecture' of international institutions, and, in particular, a review process aimed at effectively strengthening the multilateral institutions. Austria supports this initiative, not least because Austria sees its national interests best safeguarded by a strong UN system based on multilateral support," Ferrero-Waldner emphasised, adding that strengthening of the United Nations and in particular increasing the effectiveness of the UN Security Council are issues that are also in the interest of the Russian Federation.

The talks also dealt with the situation in Iraq, which continues to be a cause for concern, and in particular the second US draft for a new Security Council resolution. "A new UN mandate must be clearly formulated and unequivocally define the tasks and competences of the United Nations. Moreover, a clear distinction must be made here between the United Nations and the occupying forces," Ferrero-Waldner pointed out. "A new UN resolution must therefore present a clear perspective for the end of the occupation of Iraq. We have to give the Iraqi people a definitive time schedule for the drafting of a new constitution, the holding of elections and the restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty. In any case, they must be reassured that they are the masters of their own destiny, because the feeling of "ownership" is the key to stabilisation of the situation."