Wien, 25. July 2005 Press release

Plassnik meets with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

25.07.2005

Core topics are the EU Presidency and the fight against terrorism

London, July 25, 2005 - Today, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met her counterpart, the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, for talks in London. "During the next months Great Britain will be a particularly important partner for Austria. We are working on the same issues, we are joining forces and our aim is to closely coordinate our Presidencies of the EU", said Plassnik.

At first, the talks focused on the common fight against terrorism. In connection with the terrorist attacks in London, Plassnik expressed her sincere sympathy to Jack Straw. The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the work connected with the fight against terrorism in Europe would have to be intensified during the next weeks and months. Great attention would be devoted to this problem by both the British and the Austrian Presidency. "Measures aimed at fighting terror financing, increased data exchange, and protection of endangered infrastructure objects, but also combating and preventing radicalisation will be especially important", continued Plassnik.

As for the big future issues of the European Union, such as the constitutional debate, the financial forecast and enlargement, the two Foreign Ministers agreed on a close coordination both between themselves and with the EU citizens. In this context Plassnik explained her initiative "Europe is listening", which enables those interested to make known their wishes and concerns regarding Europe. "Now is the time for listening, considering, absorbing", said Plassnik. "I consider the suggestion put forward by Margot Walstrom, the Vice-President of the European Commission, a very good step at the European level to re-establish closeness and contact with the citizens", added Plassnik.

In this connection Plassnik welcomed the British intention to hold an informal meeting of the heads of government on the urgent challenges facing Europe in a globalised world. "It is important to me that we safeguard the European model of life in all its facets. This includes responsible cooperation in the world of work, social security, sustainable treatment of the environment and respect for the diversity on this continent", continued Plassnik.

Plassnik reiterated to Jack Straw the Austrian positions concerning the Croatian accession efforts and the planned start of negotiations with Turkey. "It is important that the Foreign Ministers hold a frank and comprehensive political debate on all unsolved problems in the near future. We have scheduled this for the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers on 1-2 September in Newport. The Commission draft will not simply be rubber-stamped", said Plassnik.

Plassnik and Straw agreed to maintain close contacts during the next months with regard to all EU issues.