Wien, 12. December 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Unity and solidarity of the EU on the Kosovo issue"

12.12.2007

Foreign Minister before Parliament’s Main Committee

Vienna, 12 December 2007 - "The European Union now has its hands free again and can concentrate on the specific concerns of its citizens and a ‘Europe of results’," said Ursula Plassnik at today’s Parliament´s Main Committee meeting, welcoming tomorrow’s signing of the Treaty of Lisbon. This Reform Treaty would bring more democracy, more clarity and more security" to the EU, affirmed the Foreign Minister. "We shall continue our consistent efforts to provide comprehensive information on the content of this Treaty to all Austrians," continued Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister referred to today’s formal proclamation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights by the Presidents of the European Council, the European Parliament and the Commission. "With this charter, the EU citizens have the most advanced catalogue of fundamental rights worldwide, with Austria contributing decisively to its elaboration," said Plassnik.

"It is obvious that the future of the countries in the region lies in the EU," explained the Foreign Minister, referring to the Western Balkans. "We have reached an important goal in the process of rapprochement by concluding stabilisation and association agreements with every single Balkan state," continued Plassnik, also highlighting Croatia’s clear progress in the process of rapprochement which is duly appreciated in the conclusions of the EU foreign ministers: "Croatia is on the right path and a role model for the entire region."

Regarding Turkey’s accession to the EU, Plassnik recalled how Austria had clearly been the odd one out two years ago: "Now there is more clear-headedness. France’s attitude shows that our clear stance on Turkey is now receiving wider support. We still consider a customized solution to be the more realistic approach. We must now wait and see what the negotiations will bring," emphasized the Foreign Minister.

The theme that was currently most under discussion was Kosovo: "We are entering a complex and challenging stage. The time window of 120 days which was open for the Kosovo Troika has now been closed. The options for a negotiated settlement are now exhausted. Monitored independence, as suggested by the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, is the only realistic approach," stated Plassnik. Unity and solidarity within the EU has increased: "The European Council will send out a strong and unified signal of the European commitment to Kosovo: the EU is aware of its responsibility and is prepared to accept it," affirmed Plassnik. UN resolution 1244 would continue to be the basis for this, she added.

Austria would also continue its active commitment to Kosovo. "The people in the region and our partners expect us to continue our clear commitment to Kosovo, and that is exactly what we shall do," affirmed Plassnik. The Foreign Minister referred to Austria’s offer to dispatch 33 experts in the field of police and justice to participate in the EU’s forthcoming rule of law mission. Currently, Austria accounts for 578 soldiers within the framework of the KFOR mission, while 200 further soldiers are serving as a reserve. Austria also provides specialists for the OSCE mission to safeguard the rule of law and the protection of minorities.

"The people in Kosovo need clarity. The lack of a status solution is not only a factor of increasing insecurity for the entire Balkans but also puts an economic brake on the region," Plassnik stressed. "Our goal remains a Kosovo where all people can live in dignity and security regardless of their religious and ethnic origin. But we all know that in the long term a resolution will only be possible within the framework of a European perspective for the entire region," stated Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister also used the opportunity to repudiate a statement allegedly made by her about Austria’s participation in the Chad mission and quoted by a daily. "The statement ‘We cannot evaluate the military situation in Chad but we can take the responsibility for the mission’ does not make sense and was issued neither by myself nor by my spokesman," asserted the Foreign Minister.

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