Wien, 6. July 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Neighbourliness in practice at all levels"

06.07.2006

Inaugural visit of new Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz in Vienna

Vienna, 6 July 2006 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met with her Hungarian counterpart Kinga Göncz for talks today. The two foreign ministers discussed topical EU themes against the backdrop of the commencement of the Finnish EU Presidency, such as the future of the European Constitution, the enlargement of the European Union, the situation in the Western Balkans and European Neighbourhood Policy. The talks also focused on bilateral and regional issues as well as the Regional Partnership.

"I am delighted that my new counterpart Kinga Göncz is paying her inaugural visit to Vienna. This has become a tradition and shows the close friendship between our two countries," emphasised Foreign Minister Plassnik. "Our relations are particularly harmonious. Even the proverbial magnifying glass will not reveal any points of friction. The things we have in common as neighbours are reflected not only in substantive work but also in organisational matters," continued Plassnik, referring to the transformation of the Hungarian and Austrian foreign representations, which share an office in Podgorica (Montenegro), into full-fledged embassies.

"2006 marks a special year for our friendship: the Hungarian Revolution against Communism fifty years ago links our countries in a special way and we will celebrate this historic event together, both in Hungary and in Austria. In 1956, Austria welcomed about 200,000 Hungarian refugees. They have become part of our modern identity and of our close - both regional and personal - bonds with Hungary," said Plassnik.

The solidarity and the dynamics that characterise the relations between the two countries also became manifest in the joint Ministerial Council of the Hungarian and Austrian governments in December 2005. "We will continue to work towards holding another joint Ministerial Council at the end of this year, so as to establish this as a neighbourly tradition," continued the Foreign Minister.

Within the framework of the Regional Partnership, Austria took over the chair from Hungary on 1 July: "I should like to thank our Hungarian colleagues for their work in this regional network. The Conference on the Western Balkans, which was held last autumn in Budapest, was of special significance. During our chairmanship in the Regional Partnership, we are committed to continuing the Budapest process in order to support our neighbouring region in South-Eastern Europe; we also plan to intensify cooperation in the consular field which is so important for our citizens," Plassnik affirmed.

Asked at the press conference for a comment on the new Slovak government, the Foreign Minister referred to her longstanding acquaintance with Foreign Minister Jan Kubis, who worked in Vienna during his term as Secretary General of the OSCE and whom she came to know as a reliable and competent partner. "We will assess the new Slovak government on the basis of its actions. We will wait and see what the new government programme is like. We are convinced that in future Slovakia will continue to do everything in its power in order to ensure the protection of minorities and comply with the respective European standards," concluded Plassnik.

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