Brüssel, 15. September 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Message of encouragement from the EU to Serbia"

15.09.2006

Foreign Minister Plassnik at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers

Brussels, 15 September 2006 - "Serbia remains important to us," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik after positive and future-oriented conclusions on Serbia were adopted at her initiative by the Council for General Affairs and External Relations at today’s meeting in Brussels.

Plassnik emphasised that Serbia in particular was currently in a difficult situation, requiring the EU’s support at this very moment. "At yesterday’s meeting of the Regional Partnership countries we gave a clear sign of our sustained commitment. And today the entire EU is sending a clear message of encouragement to the people in Serbia - though of course without deviating from our conditions," said Plassnik.

The conclusions adopted at Austria’s initiative explicitly set forth that a peaceful and flourishing Serbia, as a fully-fledged part of the European family, plays a key role in stabilising the whole region. "We are signalling that you are welcome in Europe, you should not withdraw into self-imposed isolation. We want to work together to make the European perspective credible and tangible to Serbia," said the Foreign Minister.

The negotiations on a stabilisation and association agreement were an important instrument to this end. Today all the Member States clearly expressed their readiness to resume these negotiations as quickly as possible," the Foreign Minister stressed. "Naturally, though, Serbia has to make its own contribution to this: concrete results in implementing the submitted action plan for swift and full cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal," said Plassnik.

Plassnik also referred to the paper adopted yesterday by the Regional Partnership which proposes a catalogue of specific measures aimed at supporting Serbia’s process of rapprochement with Europe. "We presented this paper to our EU partners today. The paper, which contains suggestions such as simplified visa procedures, economic aid, reform of the security sector and proposals on other themes, was welcomed by a number of Member States. We shall continue to build on it," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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