Wien, 16. October 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Cyprus - a like-minded and close partner of Austria"

16.10.2007

Foreign Minister meets with her Cypriot colleague in Vienna

Vienna, 16 October 2007 - "There are many connecting lines between our two countries. We work closely together on an international level - both in the EU and in the UN. The imminent accession of Cyprus to the Euro Zone will bring us even closer", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik after a meeting in Vienna with her Cypriot colleague Erato Kozakou Marcoullis. Plassnik took the opportunity to emphasize that "Erato Marcoullis is the 5th woman in the EU and the 26th worldwide to having been appointed Foreign Minister". The foreign Minister pointed out to the strong relations with Cyprus on a personal level, such as, for instance, in tourism, with 25,000 Austrians visiting Cyprus each year. "The opening of our embassy in Nicosia two years ago has brought additional dynamics into our relations".

Foreign Minister Marcoullis thanked Austria, one of the largest providers of troops for UN peace missions on the island since 1964, for its commitment in the continued efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem. Moreover, she pointed out that Cyprus will support Austria’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for 2009/2010.

The central topic of their talks was the upcoming EU Summit in Lisbon and the ongoing negotiations on the EU Reform Treaty: "I thank Cyprus for its understanding and the support for Austria's efforts to reach a lasting solution in the problem of university access. This is not about a particular position of Austria, but about a European question of principle. We need a lasting and viable settlement that will give us the necessary legal certainty", stressed Plassnik.

Asked about the ongoing Kosovo negotiations, Plassnik pointed out that this is a deeply European matter: "The issue of Kosovo is a significant test for common EU foreign policy. We now find ourselves in a decisive phase: Belgrade and Pristina must make the best of the remaining time until 10 December. We need a new dynamics - unilateral actions or insisting on positions of principle are not taking us any step further", said the Foreign Minister, adding that "Austria will continue its engagement with persistence and to offer its good services. Therefore, the next round of talks on Kosovo in October will take place in Vienna again".

With regard to the EU accession negotiations with Turkey, the Foreign Minister said: "Austria has a clear and straightforward position on this. We want a Turkey that focuses on Europe and lives the European values. We give preference to a customized partnership. The outcome of the negotiations is open. There is no automatism here".

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