Wien, 10. November 2006 Press release

Plassnik and Winkler at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels

24.02.2006

General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels

17.03.2006

Vienna, 24 February 2006 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik will attend the meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on Monday, 27 February 2006 in Brussels in her function as Presidency, together with State Secretary Hans Winkler.

In the session on general affairs, the main theme will be the preparation of the spring European Council and the negotiations with the European Parliament on the Financial Perspective.

In the session on external affairs, the Foreign Ministers will discuss relations with the Western Balkans, particularly in view of the independence referendum in Montenegro, and the situation in Kosovo after the decentralisation talks in Vienna. A discussion of the situation in Iraq following the publication of the results of the parliamentary elections in December 2005 and the bombing of the Imam Ali-Hadi Mosque in Samarra is also planned.

In addition, the Foreign Ministers will examine the situation following the publication of the controversial Mohammed cartoons and discuss de-escalation measures. Other topics include the situation in the Middle East against the background of the newly constituted Palestinian parliament and the negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue.

A Troika meeting at Foreign Minister level will be held with Serbia and Montenegro in the margins of the Council, at which in particular the negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement will be discussed.

Foreign Minister Plassnik will also meet with the Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey to sign the memorandum on Switzerland’s financial contribution to the ten new Member States of the EU. On this occasion, Plassnik will also present the notification instruments for four agreements of the Bilateral II package with Switzerland.

Contact:
Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press and Information
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213
abti3(at)bmaa.gv.at

Vienna, 17 March 2006 - On Monday, 20 March Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik will attend the meeting in Brussels of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union in her capacity as Council President. She will be accompanied by State Secretary Hans Winkler.

At the session on general affairs, the discussions will focus on preparations for the European Council.

The Foreign Ministers will discuss relations with the Western Balkans on the basis of the Salzburg Declaration (www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/March/1103EUWesternBalkansStatement.html) adopted at their Informal Meeting on 11 March. Other topics of discussion will include the recent developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the change of government in the Republika Srpska and the situation in Serbia after the death of Milosevic.

The Foreign Ministers will also discuss the further procedure concerning Iran's nuclear policy and the current situation in Iraq after the convening of the new parliament.

The themes for the working lunch will be the Middle East peace process in the light of the recent events in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the situation in Sudan.

There will be a Troika meeting at minister level in the margins of the Council with Albania, at which in particular the further steps in ratification of a stabilisation and association agreement will be discussed.

In addition, Foreign Minister Plassnik will have a meeting with the President of Lebanon's Council of Ministers, Fouad Siniora.

Contact:
Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press and Information
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213
abti3(at)bmaa.gv.at