Wien, 24. October 2006 Press release

Winkler: "Moldova - course of reform to be consistently pursued"

24.10.2006

State Secretary Hans Winkler met with Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan

Vienna, 24 October 2006 - Deputising for Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, State Secretary Hans Winkler received Moldova's Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan for talks today. The meeting focused on the EU’s relations with Moldova within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Transnistrian conflict and bilateral relations between Austria and Moldova.

"As a result of Romania's EU accession at the beginning of 2007, Moldova will become a direct neighbour of the European Union. The creation of the necessary economic framework conditions, together with the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law in the EU's neighbouring states, is in the interest of us all. We are therefore encouraging Moldova to continue its reform efforts and endeavours along the road to acquiring European structures and attaining European standards," emphasised State Secretary Hans Winkler.

The intensification of relations with the Republic of Moldova and it's rapprochement with European economic and social structures is based on the Joint Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy, which became effective at the beginning of 2005. In addition, the EU has increased its commitment to the Republic of Moldova by opening a mission of the European Commission in Chisinau, by nominating a special envoy for the Transnistrian conflict, and by establishing an EU border mission along the frontier between Moldova and Ukraine in which customs and police forces from all over Europe are now active. This mission is designed to stop illegal activities, particularly along the Transnistrian section of the common border.

In Secretary Winkler's opinion the EU's inclusion in talks on a resolution of the Transnistrian conflict is an important step. "A peaceful long-term resolution of this regional conflict must be a priority. Firmly anchoring democratic structures is a basic precondition for lasting peace and stability and, on this basis, for the economic development of the region," stated Winkler.

"The last EU enlargement has increased the importance of both the Danube and the Black Sea regions. The Danube offers numerous opportunities for Austria which should be taken advantage of," continued Winkler, pointing out that the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), which is committed to social, economic and democratic development in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, is gradually making Moldova a priority country of cooperation within Eastern Europe. The ADC's priorities are water supply, education, agriculture, employment and migration.

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