Vienna, 24 January 2014 – Austria took over the one-year presidency of the Central European Initiative (CEI) in early January. The motto of Austria's Presidency is "CEI as a Bridge between European (Macro) Regions/Synergies with other International Organisations". The first meeting of the national CEI coordinators was held under this motto in Vienna on 24 January. The conference was opened by Michael Linhart, Secretary General of the Austrian Ministry of European and International Affairs. In addition to representatives from regional and international organisations, the high-level conference was attended by Austrian EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, Wilhelm Molterer.
Austria has set itself the goal of making the CEI more visible during its one-year presidency and intends to pool activities by networking with other organisations active in the CEI member states, to create synergies and to avoid overlapping projects. One priority during the year will be the rapprochement of the Western Balkan states to the EU, and in addition focus will be given to supporting all non-EU members of the CEI in achieving European standards.
The new three-year programme of the CEI takes account of these European standards and includes the following priority areas: further development of a knowledge society, a sustainable economy and cooperation with the civil society.
The CEI will celebrate its 25th anniversary during the year of the Austrian Presidency. The organisation was founded in 1989 by Austria (neutral), Italy (NATO), Yugoslavia (non-aligned) and Hungary (Warsaw Pact) and has since grown to an organisation with 18 member states, 10 of which are EU members. In addition to its multilateral political approach and in the context of this change in background, the CEI has become a reliable organisation for the implementation of EU projects over the past few years.
The CEI under the Austrian Secretary General in office at that time was granted observer status at the UN General Assembly in December 2011.
"Through networking with other regional and international organisations, we aim to attract attention for the CEI, make it more visible, and with the event today we would also like to underline the importance of Vienna as the seat of many international organisations and place of encounters", Linhart said in his opening address.
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