Wien, 14. December 2005 Press release

Plassnik: “Giving visibility to Austria’s contribution to the peace and security policy”

14.12.2005

Foreign Minister emphasises Austria’s commitment in south-eastern Europe

Vienna, 14 December 2005 - "I am concerned to make Austria’s contribution to the peace and security policies of the European Union and the United Nations visible," explained Foreign Minister Plassnik at the traditional press conference prior to the European Council.

"On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Austria’s membership of the UN and shortly before the beginning of Austria’s EU Presidency it is of particular importance to turn attention to Austria’s commitment to peace and stability in the world," said Plassnik.

"The decision to second five Austrian experts to EU missions, which was unanimously adopted at yesterday’s meeting of the Main Committee in Parliament, is a concrete example of Austria’s foreign and peace policy," said the Foreign Minister, referring to the despatch of Austrian police officers and experts to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Sudan and the Palestinian Territories.

Plassnik stressed Austria’s commitment to south-eastern Europe. On the question of granting Macedonia candidate status, which will be discussed at the coming European Council, Plassnik stated that "enlargement is not the right word" and that it was more a question of "reunification and reconstruction of Europe".

"This continent needs to find itself again. This calls for clear and concrete perspectives for the states of the western Balkans, since the Balkans are part of Europe and part of our security," said Plassnik.

The European Council must not therefore show any sign of letting up. "Macedonia is a successful European project. The European Union has invested a lot in keeping the multi-ethnic community together. Now we need to move on. We need a policy of encouragement," said Plassnik.

The decision to award candidate status would in no way prejudice the fixing of a date for starting membership negotiations. "There is still a long road to travel before membership negotiations are started, and incisive reforms will be required on the way," said the Foreign Minister.

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