Wien, 7. November 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Austria pursues consistent European policy"

07.11.2006

Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on European Commission’s enlargement reports expected for tomorrow

Vienna, 7 November 2006 - Tomorrow, Wednesday, the European Commission will publish its annual progress reports for the South-East European countries and Turkey. For the first time it will also present a special report on the absorption capacity of the European Union, thus fulfilling a task assigned to it under the Austrian Presidency.

Today, Foreign Minister Plassnik expressed confidence that the reform progress in the individual countries will be assessed by the Commission in an objective and fair manner. "We assume that the Commission will pay tribute to the progress achieved by the Balkan states. Croatia in particular succeeded in achieving rapprochement with Europe last year. The ‘certificate’ issued by the Commission is encouraging and the accession negotiations are well under way," she said.

However, Plassnik also pointed out that in Austria’s view the reforms undertaken in Turkey had fallen short of expectations. "We therefore expect a clearly critical review by the Commission. Considerable shortcomings have been observed in various areas, and sobering analyses call for commensurate consequences," emphasised Plassnik. "I would like to see the Commission draw clear operational conclusions from its report on Turkey and propose specific options for action to the Member States," continued Plassnik.

For the coming weeks leading up to the European Council in December, the Foreign Minister also pleaded for an honest political debate among the EU Member States on the further procedure concerning Turkey. "There will be an early opportunity for this on Monday at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers," said Plassnik.

Referring to the Commission’s report on the European Union’s absorption capacity, Plassnik said that this document would be characterised by a red-white-red thread – both in terms of how it came into existence and its content. "We Austrians repeatedly emphasised how important the enlargement criterion of absorption capacity is. And although the other EU Member states expressed their resistance, we managed to lay down absorption capacity as a clear precondition for Turkey’s membership," recalled Plassnik in reference to Austria’s persistent and successful European policy.

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