Wien, 18. November 2008 Press release

Plassnik: "Serbia should consistently continue its course of reforms"

Foreign Minister meets with Serb Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic

Vienna, 18 November 2008 – "For Austria it is clear that Serbia is part of our European family. Undeniably, Serbia has an EU perspective. We have made it our task, and we will not slacken in providing consistent and multifarious support to Serbia on its path of integration. We were and still remain an advocate of Serbia’s interests within the EU," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik following her meeting with Serb Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic.

"Serbia has the potential to advance swiftly in its rapprochement with Europe. Recently, Serbia has achieved remarkable progress on its course of reforms towards Europe. It has to continue to follow this course in a consistent and unflinching manner. The latest progress report by the European Commission envisages Serbia being granted candidate status for 2009, provided the necessary requirements have been met. This should be an incentive to ignite the turbo and determinedly translate these encouraging prospects into reality," continued the Foreign Minister.

Within the EU Austria would continue to support the immediate entry into force of the interim agreement between the EU and Serbia, which is designed to facilitate trade relations: "After the extradition of Karadzic Serbia deserves this encouragement. It is working hard on full cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. I am convinced that Serbia will see this chapter through to its very end and thus also remove the final barrier to the entry into force of the association agreement with the EU," asserted Plassnik.

"Strengthening the contacts between the people of our two countries is a special concern of mine. For this reason I have also emphatically supported the drawing up of a roadmap towards visa liberalisation which will now be implemented step by step as higher security standards are achieved," continued the Foreign Minister, referring to Serbia’s new biometric passports which Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic presented in Vienna today.

"Serbia and Austria are connected by a close network of diverse ties - be they political, economic, cultural and, above all, interpersonal, and it is these ties which make us friends and neighbours - even without a common border," concluded Plassnik, referring to the mobility programmes she had initiated on behalf of the young people in Serbia. The promotion of cultural exchange would also be made a priority, the elaboration of a cultural agreement between Austria and Serbia having already been agreed upon a short while ago.

Contact:
Federal Ministry for
European and international Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213
abti3(at)bmeia.gv.at