Vienna, 14 October 2008 – "The EU’s complexity and crisis management has again proved successful – in terms of economic policy as regards the financial market crisis, and in terms of foreign policy as regards the Caucasus conflict. In both fields the EU has clearly learnt a lot. The Eurozone countries serve as anchors of stability and provide incentives for both Europe and the world at large. That is an important message, particularly for small and medium-sized EU states, which should also strengthen Austria’s awareness of Europe," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today at a press conference held jointly with Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Vice-Chancellor Wilhelm Molterer on the forthcoming European Council on 15-16 October 2008 in Brussels.
Among the foreign policy matters to be addressed at the European Council meeting the Caucasus will take centre stage. "The European Union has proved useful as a mediator recognised by both sides. The withdrawal of Russian troops from the areas adjoining Abkhazia and South Ossetia was implemented punctually and according to plan, and marks an important stage in European crisis management," stated Plassnik.
"The next stage are the political talks between the parties to the conflict; they will commence tomorrow in Geneva at the EU’s initiative. They also offer the opportunity to address questions regarding the implementation of the 6-point plan agreed by Nicolas Sarkozy of France, which currently holds the EU Presidency, Russia’s President Medvedev and Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili. These talks will also be taken into account in the overall evaluation of our further relations with Russia," affirmed Plassnik.
The resumption of negotiations on a partnership agreement with Russia will also be on the agenda of the European Council. "Austria has always spoken out in favour of such negotiations as they are in the interests of both parties as regards good political and economic relations. It is important that the negotiations are based on clear points of view," stated Plassnik.
"It is clear that willingness for continued cooperation cannot mean a deviation from basic EU principles. This holds particularly true for our commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We cannot allow unilateral military action to result in the creation and recognition of new facts," continued the Foreign Minister.
As for Russia’s most recent proposals regarding a new European security structure, Plassnik said: "We are also prepared to discuss questions of pan-European security with Russia. Such a dialogue must, however, be conducted on the basis of existing structures and must not lead to a disengagement of the transatlantic component. The Vienna-based OSCE should therefore continue to remain the central platform for dialogue".
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