Wien, 14. November 2008 Press release

Plassnik: "No slackening in building a Palestinian state"

Together with her Palestinian counterpart Al-Maliki, Austria’s Foreign Minister opens Palestinian Ambassadors’ Conference in Vienna

Vienna, 14 November 2008 - "Our objective continues to remain a two-state solution, and the European Union provides consistent support to this approach. There must be no slackening in building a viable Palestinian state which would live side by side with Israel in peace and security. The people of the region want tangible progress in the peace process," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at her meeting with her Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki. Subsequently, the two foreign ministers opened a conference of Palestinian ambassadors in Vienna.

"Year after year the EU remains the biggest provider of decisive humanitarian aid to the region," asserted Plassnik. The contributions are of a highly innovative nature, and include such assistance as the POL-EUCOPPS mission, which supports the Palestinian police and judicial system in developing their own capacities for ensuring law and order. Austria is participating in this assignment with two experts in penal law as well as two police officers. The EU´s border monitoring mission in Rafah is also an important component of Europe´s efforts in the region.

"Austria has traditionally been a friend and active supporter of the Palestinian people. We have expressed this in diverse ways and will continue to do so. In this context women and young people are of special personal and political concern to me. They are important because they carry our hopes for the future," stated Plassnik. The Foreign Minister referred to the Vienna Conference on the Reconstruction of Nahr-el Bared Refugee Camp. "We shall soon organise a UN media seminar on the Middle East and a dialogue conference between the EU and the Arab League. All of this demonstrates the close fabric of common interests and consistent support for the Palestinian people," affirmed Plassnik. "I congratulate our Palestinian friends on the progress they have achieved. Nablus, Jenin and Hebron are positive examples of improved security, a fact which is also acknowledged by the Israeli side," continued Plassnik.

It was imperative that concrete progress was achieved at the political level: "I remain convinced that Palestinians will win nothing by separation and division, even though conditions are difficult and many injuries and wounds have been caused. Approaching each other is the only possible option. I therefore regret that the scheduled negotiations have been postponed. For us, this must not be a reason for discouragement, and that also applies to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, one year after Annapolis," concluded Plassnik.

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