Wien, 28. September 2005 Press release

Winkler: “Continuation of reform course important for rapid rapprochement"

28.09.2005

State Secretary Winkler met with Deputy Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro

Vienna, 28 September 2005 - Today, State Secretary Hans Winkler met for talks with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Predrag Boskovic. Central topics were the future of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro as well as its rapprochement with the European Union. "A stable and functioning State Union as well as the continuation of the reform course are the best prerequisites for a rapid rapprochement with the EU", said Winkler.

Furthermore, Winkler stressed that the adoption of the EU negotiating framework for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia and Montenegro, which is expected for the beginning of next week, would open the door to a contractual rapprochement of the State Union with the EU. "The rapprochement of the Western Balkans with the European Union is of special concern to Austria and will also constitute one of the priorities of the Austrian EU Presidency in the first half of 2006", continued Winkler.

In this context Winkler also reiterated that "the immediate beginning of the membership negotiations with Croatia" was "an important signal for the whole region". "The perspective of membership in the EU is the driving force for democratic reforms", concluded Winkler.