'Wien, 6. December 2005 Press release

Plassnik: “Europe in action”: European foreign policy in the Middle East in the service of peace

06.12.2005

Active participation by Austria in the EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah

Vienna, 6 December 2005 - "For the first time Israel and the Palestinian authorities have made a joint request to the European Union to provide support in the opening of the border crossing for goods in transit at Rafah. This is a sign that the demand for Europe in the world is increasing. The growing number of civilian EU missions also demonstrates that the importance of civilian crisis management is on the increase within the European Union," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today following the Ministerial Council.

"The EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah makes a very specific contribution to improving confidence and stability in the Middle East. Austria will take an active part in this important mission, which will enhance stability and the rule of law in the Middle East," said the Foreign Minister.

"Austria will be sending up to six experts from the main areas of border management to Rafah by 31 December 2006: two customs experts, two police experts and two security experts from the Austrian armed forces. During Austria’s Presidency, our experts will make an important contribution, demonstrating the EU’s credibility and dependability as a crisis manager and partner for Israel, the Palestinians and Egypt. Open borders in Rafah and successfully functioning border management offer the populations concerned good prospects for a better and more stable future and for the continuation of progress towards peace," concluded the Foreign Minister.

Contact for further enquiries:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
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