Vienna, 14 June 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "A new tone in the European debate"


Foreign Minister briefs on main topics of EU Summit

Vienna, 14 June 2006 - On the occasion of today's joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and the session of the main committee of Austria's National Assembly on the upcoming EU Summit to be held on 15th and 16th June, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik gave a briefing on the main topics of the meeting of foreign ministers to be held on 15th June in Brussels alongside the Summit.

For the EU Summit, six foreign-policy declarations on the Western Balkans, Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and on a strategy for Africa are planned, which "gives a clear picture of what has occupied us over the past few months in terms of foreign policy".

One focus of discussion among the foreign ministers will be the Western Balkans, and in particular relations with Serbia. "Status issues are among the most delicate for the community of nations. For this reason, particularly right now it is important to ensure a positive and stable climate. Serbia is a key country as regards stability and development in the entire region", said Plassnik. Building on the Salzburg Declaration, the EU Summit will re-state the European perspective regarding the states of the Western Balkans. "It is important that we keep the promises we have given - it's a question of credibility", stressed Plassnik.

In addition the foreign ministers will also deal with the question of the external dimension of migration in connection with their strategy for Africa. According to Plassnik: "We must deal with this topic in all its dimensions - development policy, human rights, social and economic policy. Here in particular, the EU's protective function is needed."

"The discussion at the last General Affairs Council in Brussels showed that the preliminary work undertaken by the foreign ministers in Klosterneuburg has been consolidated. The aim of the current phase is to keep the Constitutional Treaty intact. We're not going to have an obituary, and neither cherry-picking nor filleting would be useful at this point", declared Plassnik on the constitutional debate. The task now is to make the best of all opportunities offered by the existing treaties in order to achieve a Europe that is closer to its citizens and a Europe of concrete projects and results. "We have given real impetus in this direction", she added.

In conclusion, Austria's Foreign Minister indicated her satisfaction that, under the Austrian Presidency, a new tone had arisen in the European debate. For instance, the question of the ability to absorb new members in the context of expansion had met with little understanding just a few months ago, but now, at the EU Summit, one could expect a factual discussion on general principles oriented around objective criteria.

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