Wien, 16. September 2004 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner: "Austria's unbroken Unwavering Austrian support for South Tyrol support for South Tyrol"

16.09.2004

Vienna, 16 September 2004 - Following a long-standing tradition, a large-scale meeting high level meeting on South Tyrol was again held at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 16 September, bringing together the political leadership of the German-speaking ethnic group in South Tyrol and the politicians responsible for formulating the policy towards South Tyrol in Vienna and Innsbruck for intensive talks and an exchange of information under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The large members of the South Tyrolean delegation wasere headed by the leader Chairman of the South Tyrol People's Party, Elmar Pichler Rolle, and Province South Tyrol’s Governor Luis Durnwalder, while the Austrian delegation, beside the Foreign Minister, included the President of the Austrian Parliament Andreas Khol and the Governor of Tyrol Herwig van Staa, among others. Ferrero-Waldner: "I greatly very much welcome the fact that the policy-makers in South Tyrol are maintaining their close contacts with Vienna and that they have informed us in depth about the issues affecting South Tyrol and the political situation in Italy".

The consultations focussed on current developments relating related to South Tyrol's autonomy and the relations between Bolzano and Rome. A special topic of discussion was the question of the declarations of affiliation to a linguistic group in individual declarations of linguistic identitythe census. , In this matterin which, South Tyrol succeeded in preventing an infringement procedure before the European Commission this July only after intensive efforts which were vigorously supported by Austria. The South Tyrolean delegation reported on the negotiations that have now got underway in the Parityy Commission to thrash work out the details of the compromise solution agreed upon by Bo Bolzanolzano and Rome in July.

A further issue on the agenda was the constitutional reform being debated by the parliament in Rome, several items of which could potentially impair South Tyrol's autonomy. Austria is watching observing the developments in this regard with utmost attention and is maintaining very close contact with the South Tyrolean members of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Ferrero-Waldner: "South Tyrol can depend rely on Austria, who remains resolutely committed to her obligations under the Paris Agreement. We are proceeding on the assumption that this constitutional reform will fully respect the internationally guaranteed autonomy of South Tyrol."

Other topics discussed at the meeting included the problem of transit traffic and the Brenner base tunnel project, educational issues including questions relateding to the mutual recognition of academic titles, and the consultations in progress in the Austrian Convention on the elaboration of a new Austrian federal constitution.