Ohrid, 2. December 2005 Press release

Plassnik: “Rapprochement between the countries of south-eastern Europe and the EU will be consistently encouraged during our Presidency”

02.12.2005

Future President of the Council of the European Union meets the foreign ministers of the western Balkan states in Ohrid

Ohrid, 2 December 2005 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik assured the foreign ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro of "Austria’s consistent support of a rapprochement with the European Union".

The foreign ministers of the western Balkan states had invited the future President of the Council of the European Union to a meeting in Ohrid, Macedonia.

"The countries of the region have a long and difficult road ahead of them before they join the European Union," stressed Plassnik. "There is still a lot to be done on both sides along the way, but our partners are well aware of this," continued the Foreign Minister.

"It is up to each of the states to make progress and tackle the necessary reforms. Austria and the European Union can only help - and this we are doing," said Plassnik, stressing the vital importance of a European perspective for the reforms in the various countries.

Plassnik highlighted the apt timing of the meeting - just before Austria is to take over the EU Presidency in which south-eastern Europe would be a major focus. "It is essential that we listen to our partners in the region as well," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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