Wien, 28. November 2005 Press release

Plassnik: “Tightly knit network of relations at all levels”

28.11.2005

Foreign Minister Plassnik meets Czech counterpart Cyril Svoboda

Vienna, 28 November 2005 - Foreign Minister Plassnik had a working meeting today with Cyril Svoboda, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic.

The discussion focused on current European issues. Plassnik also informed her counterpart about the preparations for Austria’s EU Presidency and discussed bilateral and regional issues.

"Our cooperation within the European Union is also close and efficient. For example, Austrian and Czech troops took part together in important stabilisation missions within the EU military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina."

Both foreign ministers concurred on the need for rapid agreement on the financial perspective for the European Union. "Our neighbours are entitled to reliable forecasts," said Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister thanked her colleague for his personal intervention to ensure the return of historical furniture to the Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palace. After the Second World War, some 200 chairs were confiscated by the Czechoslovakian authorities. They will be restored in the Czech Republic and should be returned to Austria next year.

"In July this year, two agreements were signed between Austria and the Czech Republic to facilitate border formalities between the two countries and to promote daily interaction in the border regions. Hikers, cyclists, horse riders and boats can now use the hiking trails and rivers in the border regions between Austria and the Czech Republic without hindrance. Tourism is particularly important in these regions. Many joint interregional transborder projects, such as the EUROREGIO Bohemian Forest or the Thayatal National Park, stand to benefit from these two agreements," said the Foreign Minister, noting the important contribution made by the many cooperations between towns and municipalities on both sides of the border.

"These are good examples of practical cooperation at both the regional and the European level," said Plassnik.

"As a neighbour with a shared cultural tradition, the Czech Republic is also a focus of Austrian cultural activities abroad. The Cultural Forum in Prague pays particularly attention to the multifaceted cultural relations," said the Foreign Minister, referring in particular to the international symposiums that will take place in Prague and Vienna as part of the current Bertha von Suttner project. "Bertha von Suttner is a central European figure with roots in both countries. A number of events are being arranged to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the award to her of the Nobel Peace Prize," said Plassnik.