Wien, 10. March 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "Confident that Negotiations on the Accession of Croatia Can Start as Planned"

10.03.2005

Croatia's Remarkable Progress on the Way to Europe

Vienna, 10 March 2005 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met her Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for a working meeting today.

Talks focused on the forthcoming decision of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on the start of accession negotiations with Croatia. Moreover, the Foreign Ministers discussed current political developments in the states of the Western Balkans.

"Austria has always supported Croatia on her way into the European Union. I am confident that negotiations for accession can start on 17 March as planned," the Foreign Minister said at the following press conference.xxxx Croatia has carried out major reforms in the political and economic fields. "Like other representatives of the government in Zagreb, the Croatian Minister for Foreign Affairs has underscored that Croatia fully cooperates with the Hague War Crime Tribunal." For this reason, she hoped that EU member states would still reach the required consensus.

"In Kosovo, the implementation of standards is a matter of priority to Austria. For this purpose, the formation of a government able to take decisions will be necessary as quickly as possible," said the Foreign Minister. "Current developments in Kosovo might, however, delay the start of status negotiations," Plassnik stated.