Wien, 2. December 2004 Press release

Plassnik: "ALTHEA an important step in the development of the European Security and Defence Policy"

02.12.2004

Foreign Minister welcomes EU takeover of peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Vienna, 2 December 2004 - "As from today the European Union is taking over from NATO to assume responsibility for the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This represents an important step in the further development of the European Security and Defence Policy" said Minister for Foreign Affairs Ursula Plassnik in Vienna on Thursday. "With up to 300 military personnel, Austria is making an important contribution to the EU-led Operation ALTHEA, which comprises a total of 7,000 troops."

The Foreign Minister underlined the importance of the mission, which besides immediate peacekeeping activities and safeguarding of security in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also tasked with bringing about the permanent stabilization of the country. "Operation ALTHEA will thus make an indispensable contribution to creating the necessary prerequisites for Bosnia and Herzegovina's progress towards integration into EU structures", said Federal Minister Plassnik.

Plassnik went on to point out that the peacekeeping mission, with which the Union is taking over permanent responsibility for the further development of this region of great importance to Europe, is only one of the many instruments with which the European Union is helping Bosnia and Herzegovina in her political and economic development towards European standards. "A further concrete example of this support are the Austrian police officers who are training their Bosnian colleagues within the framework of an EU Police Mission aimed at fighting organized crime ", the Foreign Minister concluded.