Laibach, 6. December 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "2006: Austria and Finland advocate more momentum and confidence in Europe"

06.12.2005

Shared Presidency Year 2006 for Austria and Finland

Ljubljana, 5 December 2005 - On the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Ljubljana, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met for talks with her Finish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja. "Our cooperation in preparing the common work programme for the EU presidency year of 2006 is developing in a very constructive and efficient manner," explained the Foreign Minister.

In this work programme, the two presidencies describe their common priorities for the year 2006. "A coordinated approach is a key element for the long-term success of every EU presidency," said Plassnik.

"Austria’s EU Presidency will concentrate on four focal points: creating jobs and boosting economic growth; securing and further developing the European model of living; strengthening the trust of citizens in the European project; and further affirming the role of the European Union as partner in the world," continued Plassnik.

According to the Foreign Minister, cooperation in comprehensive matters, such as the debate on the future of the Union and the European Constitution, is particularly important. "We want to use the period up to June 2006 to demonstrate a perspective for the further manner of procedure. The Austrian Presidency will particularly aim at fostering lively national debates. We particularly want to increase the involvement of parliaments and the young people," stressed the Foreign Minister.

Another common priority issue of Austria’s and Finland’s EU Presidencies will be the further development of the relationship between the European Union and Russia. "Austria will be committed to ensure that the recently adopted road maps for the Four Common Areas of the Union and Russia will be implemented," stated Plassnik. In this context the continued development of the Northern Dimension of the European Union also plays a role.

Plassnik and her Finish counterpart discussed Austria’s focus on the Western Balkans. "We want to give the South-Eastern European States a clear European perspective and gradually bring them closer to the European Union using specific measures. There is no alternative approach," declared the Foreign Minister. The European perspective is a strong motor for reform in the region.

Further issues on the agenda of the meeting were enlargement, the Strategy for Africa and the Financial Perspective of the European Union - especially with regard to the special meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on Wednesday. Plassnik and Tuomioja further discussed the transatlantic relations, the situation in the Middle East and implementation of the UN reform.