Wien, 15. June 2004 Press release

Austrian diplomacy to focus on South Eastern Europe in the coming weeks

15.06.2004

Following visit to Vienna by Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs will travel to Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Vienna, 15th June 2004 - In line with the priorities of Austrian and European foreign policy, the full focus of Austrian diplomacy in the coming weeks will be on South Eastern Europe. In a series of official visits, Federal Minister Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner will be meeting with heads of state, her ministerial counterparts and leading diplomats from the Western Balkans. The programme includes a visit to Vienna by the Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Vuk Draskovic, as well as visits to Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austrian Foreign Minister.

The diplomatic round will kick off on 16 June when the Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Vuk Draskovic, visits Vienna at the invitation of the Austrian Foreign Minister - three days after the presidential elections in Serbia. The visit will enable an intensive exchange of opinion on developments in Serbia, Kosovo and the wider region and contribute to the further development of the already excellent relations between Vienna and Belgrade. Another aim of the meeting is to further strengthen and build upon the good position enjoyed by Austrian businesses in Serbia and Montenegro.

The programme then continues on 21 June with a visit to the Macedonian capital of Skopje by Federal Minister Ferrero-Waldner. Macedonia has just held an exemplary election to appoint a new president following the recent tragic death of President Trajkovski. Despite some difficulties, the country is also showing great commitment in implementing the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which already serves other regions as a model for peaceful cohabitation between the ethnic groups.

Two days later, on 23 June 2004, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will visit Sarajevo on what will be her third trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Besides holding talks with contacts from political, economic and ecclesiastical circles, Ferrero-Waldner will also meet an advance team of Austrian SFOR troops. As in the other Balkan countries, a further aim of the visit is to strengthen the position of Austrian business in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Austria ranks among the largest investors.

The intention of this round of visits is to make it clear just how much of a priority the development of South Eastern Europe into a zone of peace and stability is for Austria, as well as demonstrating that Austria in particular can also benefit from this peace and stability in her neighbourhood.