Marseille, 4 November 2008 - For thirteen years, the Barcelona Process has provided a fixed framework for the relations and cooperation between the EU and the Mediterranean countries. Austria has always attributed great importance to this partnership. During the July summit in Paris, the French Presidency successfully initiated a restructuring of this process, for which the meeting in Marseille is expected to adopt a series of implementation decisions. Last night, the Foreign Ministers already reached an agreement on Barcelona as the seat of the Secretariat of the Mediterranean Union. A consensus also began to emerge during the meeting over concrete structures for the Secretariat.
A particularly important aspect for Austria is the manifest project orientation of this process, which is to ensure that there is objective cooperation in the interest of approximately 800 million people from the 43 countries participating in the Mediterranean process. Winkler welcomed the focus on those issues which Austria has been actively backing for quite some time: greater awareness for and promotion of women’s rights, development of energy cooperation, and cooperation in the area of environment and water, as well as further strengthening of the dialogue between cultures.
In this context, Winkler also pointed out to the planned conference on "Europe and the Arab World - Connecting Partners in Dialogue" that Austria is organizing together with the Arab League. The conference, scheduled to take place in Vienna from 17 to 19 December, is expected to provide new impulses for the relations between the European Union and the Arab League. For several years Austria has been undertaking efforts to ease tensions and to counteract the forces of extremism and radicalism.
Contact:Federal Ministry for European and international Affairs Katharina Swoboda Office of the State SecretaryTel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3469 katharina.swoboda(at)bmeia.gv.at