Vienna, 17. November 2008 Press release

Plassnik: "A new milestone in our relations with Turkmenistan"

Foreign Minister agrees on regular political consultations with Turkmen counterpart

Vienna, 17 November 2008 - "In the global village, neighbourhood is not merely defined by geographical vicinity," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at today’s meeting with her Turkmen counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister Rashid Meredov. In the presence of the Presidents of the two countries, Plassnik and Meredov in Vienna signed a declaration of intent on regular consultations between their ministries.

"In 1994, Turkmenistan became the first country in Central Asia to send an ambassador to Vienna," recalled the Foreign Minister.

"This year Austria opened an embassy in Central Asia which can now serve Turkmenistan better. That is a basis on which we can build. But we are far from having exhausted all the possibilities offered by the framework of our friendly relations. What is important is that the interpersonal, economic and cultural exchange between our two countries gain momentum," continued Plassnik, referring in this context to the EU’s strategy for Central Asia: "With this strategy, the EU has put its relations with Central Asia on a new, modern basis. We are offering the region increased cooperation in areas such as trade, energy and the environment. However, the European Union also links this with clear expectations as regards progress in areas such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights. We are convinced that economic reforms must go hand in hand with reforms aimed at democracy. The rule of law and a transparent judicial system are also indispensable prerequisites for a sound investment climate," stated Plassnik.

In this context Plassnik appealed to the Turkmen leadership to cooperate closely with the team of experts from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights at the forthcoming parliamentary elections. "The objective must be to further develop the first reform steps taken and consolidate them in a lasting manner," concluded Plassnik.

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