Wien, 29. November 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Positive stimulus for reform in the Balkans"

29.11.2006

The Foreign Minister welcomes the inclusion of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro in the Partnership for Peace

Vienna, 29 November 2006 - "The inclusion of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro will help to consolidate democratic values and structures in the armed forces of these countries. Progress of this sort is also important for rapprochement with the EU - a goal of particular importance for Austria", said Foreign Minister Plassnik about the decision taken at the NATO Summit in Riga to include these countries in the Partnership for Peace programme.

"This is an important step towards the incorporation of these countries in the Euro-Atlantic structures. At the same time it marks the international recognition of the progress made recently and is an important signal of encouragement and a positive stimulus for reform in the Balkans. We and our partners in the region welcome this", said Plassnik, who has consistently urged her European colleagues and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support the inclusion of the Balkan states in the Partnership for Peace programme.

The Partnership for Peace is a cooperation forum for NATO and non-NATO states designed to foster stability and peace. It also supports the young democracies and new states in the reform of their armed forces. By insisting on common standards and joint training it improves the ability of the participating countries to take part in international peace missions.

Austria has been a member of Partnership for Peace since 1995 and has been particularly committed to projects in the Balkans, such as the promotion of democratic control of the armed forces. Austria also assumed responsibility for the project to destroy anti-personnel mines in Serbia, which has been highly successful and has seen the destruction of over one million of these mines.

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