Wien, 12. February 2007 Press release

Plassnik: Signal of encouragement for Serbia's rapprochement with Europe

12.02.2007

Foreign Minister at meeting of General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels

Brussels, 12 February 2007 - "Today, the EU has given a strong signal of support to Martti Ahtisaari and his work on the status of Kosovo. In addition, there has been a strong signal of encouragement for Serbia's rapprochement with Europe," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik following intensive discussions by the EU foreign ministers on Serbia and the status negotiations on Kosovo. "We shall encourage, accompany and support Serbia in its progress towards Europe. The European door is open for it," continued Plassnik.

The discussion focused on the question of a resumption of negotiations on a stability and association agreement. "Today we sent out a clear message that the EU is prepared to resume negotiations on a stability and association agreement with Serbia if the new government takes concrete and effective steps towards cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal," emphasised Plassnik, referring to the intensive preparatory work carried out within the framework of Regional Partnership. "Today's discussion is a good example of successful cooperation among the regional partner countries. As neighbours we are especially committed to security, stability and positive momentum in the Balkans," continued Plassnik.

"Particularly at the present stage when a government is being formed in Belgrade it is important to make clear the EU's specific expectations. The new Serb government should proceed systematically on its European path, continue its reforms and work purposefully in its cooperation with The Hague,"said the Foreign Minister. "To this end we need credible statements in the government programme and credible persons to implement the declared intentions," stated Plassnik.

Concerning the Kosovo status negotiations the EU expressed its full support for the UN Special Representative Martti Ahtisaari. "We shall continue and further develop the European position in unity. This is also a question of the credibility of European external policy and all its possibilities and instruments," said the Foreign Minister. "We expect Belgrade and Pristina to seek a successful outcome to the next stage of consultations in Vienna," concluded Plassnik.

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