Wien, 8. August 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Specific Foreign Policy Measures’ focused on Austrians"

08.08.2006

Foreign Minister presented Austrian Foreign Policy Yearbook 2005 at meeting of the Council of Ministers

Vienna, 8 August 2006 - At today’s meeting of the Council of Ministers, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik presented the Austrian Foreign Policy Yearbook 2005. "Only if those Austrians who are interested can understand what we are doing, why and how we are doing it, will we get the support necessary for our foreign policy, European policy, international cultural policy and development policy," said Plassnik.

"2005 was a difficult and exciting year. The themes that were dealt with were of a complex nature. Within the framework of the UN, the EU and our bilateral contacts we contributed to the best of our ability and in line with the options available to us to promoting peace, security and stability in our immediate neighbourhood and in the world at large. As a member of the EU Troika, Austria took its place in the cockpit of the European Union as early as July 2005 and helped to steer its course in a responsible manner," continued the Foreign Minister.

"A major concern of mine is that we should take ‘specific foreign policy measures’ for all Austrians, keeping our feet firmly on the ground. We are a modern service facility with a worldwide network of partners, acting in the interest of the Austrian population. Within the framework of consular protection, immediate help was offered in more than 2,700 cases," said the Foreign Minister.

"In European policy my goal is to help shape Europe pro-actively and circumspectly. To me it is important to safeguard and promote the specific European life model: our objective must be to further develop the European peace project for the following generations, to preserve a healthy environment, to safeguard jobs, to preserve the social safety net as well as cultural diversity. Europe must remain a continent in which people have confidence. I do not consider it useful to pursue an erratic course as far as European policy is concerned," continued Plassnik.

"An important priority of my work is to support our immediate neighbours, the Balkan countries, on their path towards Europe, as stability in our neighbourhood will bring us extra security. Austria was instrumental in bringing about the accession negotiations with Croatia which started on 3 October 2005, in particular by implementing the Croatian Task Force at the European Council in March 2005. Making the EU’s absorption capacity a prerequisite for accession and fairer distribution of the financial contributions to the enlargement process among all Member States are also Austrian accomplishments," said Plassnik.

The conference on "Islam in a Pluralistic World", which took place in November 2005, focused on the dialogue between cultures and religions. "It is up to all of us to promote and develop the dialogue between religions and cultures. After all, we have to move on from the minimum standard of peaceful coexistence to a prosperous life together, and - as a desirable goal in the distant future - to a real life for each other in a common society, a common world. It was precisely at this conference on Islam that important contacts were established and networks developed which helped considerably to bring about détente in the dispute over the caricatures in February 2006," said Plassnik.

"In 2005, Austria doubled its performance in the field of development cooperation, thus making an important contribution to the fight against hunger, poverty and the lack of future perspectives in the poorest countries of the world," said Plassnik.

The primary task of the Foreign Policy Yearbook is to provide comprehensive information about the major developments and events in the field of international policy in 2005 and about Austria’s role in international relations. Moreover, the report aims to fulfill the requirements of a yearbook designed for a broad spectrum of readers in the fields of administration, diplomacy, academia, business and the press.

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