Wien, 25. August 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "We need to let our partners in the region know what the EU expects"

25.08.2006

Foreign Minister Plassnik at the special meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels

Vienna, 25 August 2006 - "Austria’s military activities with regard to stabilisation in the Middle East will continue to focus on peacekeeping in the Golan. Austria is providing 378 members of its armed forces, making it the largest contingent in the UNDOF mission," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik before the opening of the special meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

"The region is currently in a critical phase. The next aim must be to safeguard the ceasefire in Lebanon and to make it permanent," said Plassnik.

Today’s special meeting would be devoted in particular to the question of the EU’s contribution to the region and, in particular, of strengthening the UN force in south Lebanon (UNIFIL). "We also need to consider the overall situation in the Middle East. I would urge UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on his forthcoming visit to the Middle East to make it clear to our partners in the region what Europe expects of them. In particular in view of Europe’s willingness to make a political, humanitarian and military commitment, they should all - without exception - work towards a positive outcome and refrain from any activities that could adversely affect such a development," said Plassnik.

"The status of the Palestinian territories remains a central issue. The situation of the Palestinians should not be overshadowed by the Lebanon conflict. The European Union should therefore send out a clear signal of support and should welcome the progress in efforts towards national dialogue," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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