Vienna/Berne, 4 November 2005 - Responding to a question by the ORF which related to recent media statements, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said in Berne today that there had certainly been no detriment to Austria. "My goal remains unchanged - a thoroughgoing investigation of all allegations and putting an end to abuses, insofar as any exist. As regards the two cases which are currently subject to a criminal investigation, we are cooperating fully with the competent authorities", said Plassnik.
"Neither I nor the Ministry for Foreign Affairs tolerate black sheep in our ranks. There are no criminal networks in the Foreign Ministry", clarified Plassnik. It was imperative not to call the work of the entire consular service into doubt because of individual abuses. "As head of the Ministry, I stand by my employees in the consular service who are highly dedicated and do excellent work. We issue 400,000 visas a year without any problems", said Plassnik.
Asked by the ORF whether she thus denied the accusation of inactivity, the Foreign Minister answered: "There is no inactivity. Swift and determined action is being taken as a matter of course, and I am taking the necessary measures to make the visa system still more secure and abuse-proof", said Plassnik.
"The Austrians have a right to a clean, transparent and reliable visa system and this is indeed what we have", concluded Ursula Plassnik.
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