Wien, 13. April 2004 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner: The basis for Austria’s security is sound foreign policy

13.04.2004

Joint press conference held by the Foreign Minister and Federal Ministers Platter and Strasser

Vienna, 13 April 2004 - At the joint press conference with Defence Minister Platter and Interior Minister Strasser, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner emphasised the importance of a comprehensive security strategy and inter-ministerial cooperation. "In Europe as well as in Austria, we need close and constant co-action of all bodies concerned with issues relating to security and security policy", explained Ferrero-Waldner, adding that such a holistic approach also represented a central demand of the European Security Strategy.

The Foreign Minister gave numerous concrete examples of the excellent and ongoing cooperation between the ministerial departments concerned with security issues. In this context Ferrero-Waldner referred to Austria’s contribution to international crisis management focusing on South East Europe: "The impressive performance of our soldiers and law enforcement officers in Kosovo confirms that it was correct to set this focus - which is also a priority of foreign policy." Another example of concerted action is Austria’s commitment in the Central Asian region, which plays a central role in the international activities launched by the Ministry of the Interior. "We act in concert with respect to a wide range of issues which are of decisive importance for our domestic security, including for instance the fight against trafficking in women and drugs", the Foreign Minister said.

Ferrero-Waldner also referred to the particular role played by the extensive contacts Austria maintains with the countries of the Near and Middle East for Austria’s national security, saying "I am convinced that this comprehensive network and this great capability for dialogue contribute very decisively to the fact that Austria has so far largely been spared the insecurity emanating from the Mediterranean region. In this respect today’s foreign policy is a genuine continuation of the policy pursued by Waldheim and Kreisky."

Another particularly successful example of the continuous cooperation between the Foreign and Defence Ministries addressed by the Foreign Minister was the Regional Partnership launched on her own initiative. "In my view this is an extremely positive new dimension of our regional security policy. I am pleased to see that at the instigation of Federal Minister Platter the countries of Central Europe have also steadily stepped up their cooperation at the military level in the meantime. A joint mission of Slovenian and Austrian soldiers will soon start in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for instance; and close cooperation with Hungary is likewise envisaged", Ferrero-Waldner pointed out.

In this connection the Foreign Minister also made a reference to her understanding of the role played by the Federal President: "Standing as candidate for the office of Federal President, I naturally also ask myself what I could do for the army in this function. As the commander in chief I would at all events undertake every effort to ensure that the federal army enjoys the status it deserves in our society."