Brüssel, 16. June 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Supporting Serbia on its European course"

16.06.2006

Central theme of discussions between Foreign Ministers in Brussels

Brussels, 16 June 2006 - Council President and Foreign Minister Plassnik reported Thursday evening on the discussions of Foreign Ministers within the context of the European Council: "The Western Balkans is a priority of the Austrian Presidency in the area of external relations. At the General Affairs and External Relations Council at the beginning of this week, we adopted a series of very concrete steps, proving that the European perspective for the Balkan States is not just a pipe dream, but a tangible offer."

"For example, the first chapter of accession negotiations with Croatia has been closed, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Albania signed, and a decision taken to develop future relations with Montenegro as an independent and sovereign state", she explained.

The Foreign Ministers' discussions in the margins of the European Council focused on relations with Serbia. "Serbia is an important partner for stability and security in the whole region. We are aware that a significant number of the Serbian population are frustrated and bitter. We are working towards developing a series of positive measures to support Serbia on its European course", stated Plassnik.

She added that European rapprochement is especially important for the young generation, said Plassnik. For this reason, the Foreign Ministers applauded the willingness of the European Commission to propose a mandate for negotiations on relaxing visa restrictions.

"The EU is continually showing its commitment to cooperation with Serbia. At the same time, we expect Serbia to continue on its path of reforms and show a willingness to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. There can be no short cuts here", concluded Plassnik.

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