Vienna, 30 December 2006 - "In its Presidency, Finland skilfully combined commitment and competence with Nordic rationality and persistence. Upon the successful conclusion of the second half of the Austro-Finnish EU year, Helsinki can pass the relay to Berlin with justifiable satisfaction," claimed Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today, shortly before the handover of the EU Presidency from Finland to Germany.
The Foreign Minister thanked Finland for its team spirit and close cooperation in implementing the joint the operational programme. Cooperation had been excellent at all levels, and could certainly serve as an example for future presidencies. "After a stormy 2005 we joined forces and guided the European vessel into calmer waters. We have improved the climate, gained visibility and kept Europe on course," continued Plassnik.
Plassnik recalled the numerous challenges that characterised 2006, such as the conclusion of the financial perspective, the persistent work on the debate about the future of Europe, the prudent handling of new issues such as migration and energy security, and the consistent European commitment in the Middle East, in the Balkans and the efforts for a dialogue with Iran. "Neither have our Finnish friends lost their realism and sense of proportion in the delicate negotiations with Turkey," affirmed Plassnik.
In many areas, the Austro-Finnish activities will continue, like a thread, under Germany's Presidency. "I wish my German colleague Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his team the best of success in the difficult work ahead of them. I am confident that Germany with its rich experience, its sense of what is feasible and its open ear for the concerns of smaller Member States will have a successful Presidency. We shall support our German colleagues wherever possible," concluded Plassnik.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
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