Brussels, 19 November 2007 - "Slovenia has already successfully demonstrated its pioneering role during the introduction of the Euro at the beginning of the year. I am confident that Slovenia will succeed in a similar manner as the first of the "Class of 2004" to take over the EU Presidency in 2008", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today on the occasion of the Foreign Ministers of the Regional Partnership's meeting in the run-up to the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels. This meeting was attended by her colleagues from Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, which was represented by the new Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorski.
The talks focused in particular on the main topics of Slovenia’s upcoming EU Council Presidency and Slovakia’s equally imminent Presidency of the Council of Europe. Slovenia will be the first one of the Central European countries that joined the Union in 2004 to take over the EU Presidency. "It is a good omen that in such a decisive phase for the Western Balkans, two friends and neighbours from the Regional Partnership will be heading the two major European Organizations", stressed Plassnik. "Both of them can rely on Austria’s close neighbourly cooperation and full support in their demanding tasks."
"The progress reports recently presented by the Commission clearly show the necessary reform work for each country. The Regional Partners will continue to be the encouragers for their neighbours on the Balkans", the Minister added.
Plassnik welcomed Slovenia’s ambitious and balanced programme for the EU Presidency. Apart from current foreign policy issues such as the Kosovo status process, the Middle East, and Iran, the Austrian side focused in particular on a speedy approval of the EU Reform Treaty and on the topics of climate protection and energy security. Austria will support the Slovenian Presidency team with a diplomat and an official from the Science Ministry.
Commenting on the prevention of a comprehensive OSCE election monitoring in Russia, Plassnik said "Russia is not doing itself a favour with this. There is no reason to fear the professional and internationally acknowledged monitoring by the Warsaw-based ODIHR. I regret that Russia has missed an opportunity to demonstrate democratic self-confidence in this matter. In any case, these experiences should be a reason for all those involved to hold the Russian presidential elections in March 2008 under full OSCE observation. This needs to be prepared accordingly."
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