Wien, 26. March 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Practical neighbourliness with many facets"

26.03.2007

Foreign Minister meets with Slovakian counterpart Kubiš in Vienna

Vienna, 26 March 2007 - "Practical neighbourliness means talking to each other openly and trustfully and taking joint initiatives whenever common interests are at stake," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik following her meeting with her Slovakian counterpart Ján Kubiš.

The Foreign Minister stressed the high quality of bilateral relations between Slovakia and Austria, which would receive additional impetus through further transport infrastructure development. In this context Plassnik referred to the planned opening of the Kittsee (A6) road section in November 2007, which would make the autobahn connection between Vienna and Bratislava complete.

The Regional Partnership, the rotating chair of which will pass from Austria to Slovakia in summer, continued to offer room for common initiatives. "Maintaining the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries is a joint concern of all member states of the Regional Partnership. Our initiatives for visa issuance improvements for the people in the Western Balkans are firming up this perspective. This very day we have sent a joint letter addressed by the foreign ministers and ministers of the interior of Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia to EU Commissioner Frattini. In this letter we propose to establish a roadmap which makes it clear for the countries of the Western Balkans what reforms they are required to carry out in such areas as the judiciary, the fight against organised crime and improved border safety in order to achieve a step-by-step liberalisation of the visa regime," said the Foreign Minister.

"Our ever closer cooperation in the consular field is another example of practical neighbourliness. After Slovakia’s accession to the Schengen Agreement it will gain still further momentum. Austria advocates compliance with the original accession date at the beginning of 2008 and continues to be prepared to offer specific support at the technical level. Adherence to maximum security standards and compliance with the accession conditions are, however, absolutely essential requirements," continued Plassnik.

European themes such as the future of the European constitution and the European energy and climate policy as well as its further formulation in accordance with the decisions of the European Council of 9 March were also on the agenda of the meeting. In connection with the development plans for Slovakian nuclear power stations Plassnik said: "Austria welcomed the closing down of the first reactor block in Bohunice at the end of December. It goes without saying that we also expect the second block to be closed down within next year’s deadline, as laid down in Slovakia’s treaty of accession to the EU." The Foreign Minister reiterated the Austrian stance according to which nuclear power was neither clean nor safe, and urged a serious search for alternative forms of energy production.

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