Luxembourg, 27 May 2005 - "The links between the EU and Latin America should be strengthened at both political and economic level", said Minister for Foreign Affairs Ursula Plassnik at the Ministerial Meeting between the EU and the 19 Latin American states of the so-called Rio Group in Luxembourg.
The Foreign Minister reported to her counterparts on the status of the preparations for Austria's EU Presidency in the coming year, particularly highlighting the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit at which over 60 heads of state and government are expected in Vienna in May 2006.
In this context Plassnik also drew attention to an economic forum planned by Austria which is to take place on the margins of the summit. "This forum is a unique opportunity to invigorate the economic partnership between the two regions", said the Foreign Minister.
Plassnik used the opportunity of her stay in Luxembourg to hold bilateral talks with a number of her Latin American counterparts on the margins of the Ministerial Meeting, including the Foreign Ministers of Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Besides the preparations for the Vienna summit, the respective talks focussed on the reform of the UN as well as bilateral issues.
Nicaragua is the only priority country of the Austrian Development Cooperation (OEZA) in Latin America. With her Nicaraguan counterpart Caldera Calderon the Foreign Minister discussed the continuation of the development partnership over the next few years. In Guatemala, on the other hand, there is an Austrian school which enables thousands of young Guatemalans from all sectors of the population to complete a high-quality education.