Salzburg, 23 July 2004 - The Croatian Foreign Minister Miomir Zuzul and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi will be the guests of Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner at this year’s Salzburg Festival. Apart from working discussions, their schedule also includes joint visits to some of the Festival’s events.
Already today, Friday, Federal Minister Ferrero-Waldner will receive her Croatian counterpart to discuss the two countries’ joint future within Europe, among other topics. Austria has always consistently advocated Croatia’s swift accession to the EU and is therefore very pleased that accession negotiations will be taken up at the beginning of 2005. "The relevant decision taken by the European Council this June takes account of the resolute policy Croatia has pursued in preparing the ground for EU membership. In the many talks I’ve had with representatives of Croatia and particularly in close personal contacts with Foreign Minister Zuzul we dealt in detail with the reforms to be undertaken in order to fulfil the political and economic criteria required for accession to the EU. Now we are looking forward to efficient and target-oriented accession negotiations. It is up to Croatia to determine the speed of her negotiation process by fully meeting the accession criteria as swiftly as possible," the Foreign Minister stated in the run-up to the meeting.
In this context Ferrero-Waldner also pointed out that Austria would benefit greatly from Croatia’s accession to the EU, recalling that "by accounting for approximately one quarter of all foreign investments made since the country’s independence, Austria already ranks first among all foreign countries investing in Croatia. Austrian exports to Croatia have risen constantly over the last few years, reaching a volume which is three times that of 1995, thus making Croatia with its 4.3 million inhabitants one of Austria’s most important export markets".
On Saturday the Foreign Minister will meet UN Special Envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi. Top of the agenda of their discussions is the current situation in Iraq, but Ferrero-Waldner and Brahimi, who served as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan, will also deal with the situation in Afghanistan and discuss issues related to the Human Security Network, which the Foreign Minister strongly promotes within the framework of international cooperation.
"Lakhdar Brahimi has contributed in a very decisive manner to shaping the process of political transformation in Iraq. I attribute the utmost importance to his assessment of the further developments in Iraq and his appraisal of the mid-term EU strategy, which is already being implemented. I’ m also very interested to hear about the impressions he gained at the recent conference in Cairo. Both Austria and the EU have always advocated the view that dialogue with Iraq’s neighbours is essential for a stabilisation of the situation", concluded Federal Minister Ferrero-Waldner.