Brüssel, 22. January 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "European neighbourhood policy a recipe for success"

22.01.2007

Foreign Minister at EU General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels

Brussels, 22 January 2007 -"The initiative of the Austrian EU Presidency to develop a common energy policy for Europe is still very much part of the European working plan for homework and for external policy. The energy dimension of external affairs is destined to become an increasingly important future issue in our society. I don’t want every year to start with an energy crisis," said Foreign Minister Plassnik, commenting on today’s meeting of EU foreign ministers on the energy aspects of external relations.

"As far as energy relations are concerned, I believe that close cooperation with our neighbours is of vital importance. Austria therefore actively supports the diversification of transit routes to reduce one-sided dependency. The Nabucco gas pipeline project through Austria makes an important contribution to this policy," said the Foreign Minister. "Security of supply, diversification and sustainability are the three main requirements of any meaningful energy policy," continued Plassnik, who also referred to Austria’s well known and firm rejection of nuclear energy.

A further item on the Council agenda was the European Union neighbourhood policy. "The European neighbourhood policy has been a complete success and is a key element in close partner relations with our neighbouring regions. The uniform political framework combined with activities tailored to each partner country is the recipe for success," said Plassnik. The proposed creation of a Black Sea dimension was of particular importance for Austria, continued the Minister. "The Danube is the lifeline of Europe, connecting the EU and the Black Sea. There is enormous economic, political and human potential here for Austria and all countries of the region, which needs to be exploited to the full," added Plassnik.

Regarding recent developments in the Middle East, the Foreign Minister drew attention to the positive movements of the last few weeks. "The resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian dialogue is an important sign of hope for the entire region. Now is the right moment for action at the international level. The time has come for Europe to make its own contribution to peace in the Middle East. The upcoming meeting of the Middle East quartet in February should establish a good basis," said the Foreign Minister. The transfer of an instalment of the retained customs revenue by Israel was a further positive step. Plassnik also pointed out that rapid progress in the question of freedom of movement and detainees was also needed to enhance confidence and consolidate the dialogue. "Improving the living conditions of the population must be the main focus. Both Palestinians and Israelis are looking for rapid and tangible results of the cooperation," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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