Vienna, 4 December 2007 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik paid tribute to today’s initialling of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement by Prime Minister Nikola Spiric and the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, calling it a welcome breakthrough in the relations between the EU and the Western Balkan states: "Now the EU has concluded agreements with all Balkan states. This is a decisive step forward in the region’s rapprochement with European standards. The reform efforts must now be continued without delay until the agreement can be formally signed. This new momentum should continue into the New Year. Then the EU will have a solid network of agreements with all Balkan states", stated Plassnik.
"On its path towards Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina has thus reconnected to the region. The path towards Europe is clearly marked and needs to be pursued with determination. That calls for the necessary political will of each individual ethnic group. The agreement on the action plan for the implementation of the police reform is an encouraging sign demonstrating that the leading political forces have not lost sight of the European future of their state following the domestic tensions in recent months", said Plassnik, referring to the political compromise, which paved the way for signing the agreement following the completion of negotiations some time ago.
"Strengthening the rule of law is an indispensable pillar in the region’s rapprochement with the EU. The development of governmental structures in Bosnia is not an end in itself. It is the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves who stand to benefit in particular from the EU’s call for police reform, since a more efficient police force primarily serves the interests of its citizens", continued the Foreign Minister.
"The EU will keep its word: all Balkan states will become members of the European Union if they meet the requirements. We know that the path towards Europe is not simple. As a friend and partner, Austria will continue to patiently accompany its neighbouring region on this path and provide consistent support. Europe’s reunification process is not complete without the Balkans", concluded the Foreign Minister.
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