Brüssel, 10. December 2007 Press release

Plassnik on Kosovo: "Possibilities for a negotiated solution have been exhausted"

10.12.2007

Foreign Minister at EU Council in Brussels

Brussels, 10 December 2007 - "The Kosovo Troika has been tireless in its attempts to investigate every solution option. Today, the additional negotiation period of the last 120 days has expired. As a result, the possibilities of a negotiated solution have now been exhausted", stressed Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at today’s EU General Affairs and External Relations Council.

"The status quo, the current regulation is untenable and a growing factor of insecurity. Therefore, we need a quick solution - in the interest of the people in Kosovo and the entire region", Plassnik continued. One should focus on the common objective: a Kosovo in which all people can live in dignity and security, regardless of their religious and ethnic origin. "This is the mandate, and we shall fulfil it in unity and agreement."

Plassnik pointed out to the considerable military and civil engagement of the EU and Austria in Kosovo. 565 Austrian soldiers are currently stationed in Kosovo as part of KFOR. 200 are in reserve. Austria will also contribute to the civilian EU mission with policemen and judges. "The demand for security in the region will continue to grow. The EU’s contribution will have to remain very significant in the future as well. The coming European Council will send a clear signal of the EU’s willingness to assume responsibility. Regardless of the status process, UN resolution 1244 is a suitable basis both for the continuation of NATO’s KFOR mission and for the civilian mission", stressed Plassnik.

Especially in the current difficult situation, it is important to look beyond the horizon of the status problem, underscored the Minister. "The issue is not the single word of ´independence´ but the strengthening of the networks of neighbourly relations and the process of gradual rapprochement to the EU. We must now make this EU perspective clear and tangible for Serbia as well."

The concrete areas mentioned by the Minister were the conclusion of the Stabilization and Association Treaty with Serbia, visa liberalization, and economic cooperation. "I shall continue to commit myself to a quick conclusion of the Stabilization and Association Treaty with Serbia. One must not apply stricter standards than those for Croatia - without, however, making any concessions with regard to the demand for full cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal", stressed the Minister. According to Plassnik, visa liberalization is another important element in counteracting what she calls the "risk of self-isolation". "To a certain extent, it has become a symbol for the fact that the EU perspective is not an empty promise, but a serious offer extended to specific people. It is therefore important to achieve quick progress in this respect."

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