Vienna, 12 March 2003 Press release

Assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic: Ferrero-Waldner Deeply Shocked


"Djindjic Represented the Face of Serbia Turned Towards Europe"

Vienna, 12 March 2003 - In her reaction to the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ferrero-Waldner said she was "deeply shocked" and severely condemned the assault on the Serbian Prime Minister.

"I am deeply shaken by this atrocious act, all the more because I knew Prime Minister Djindjic personally and greatly appreciated him. I should like to express my deepest sympathy to his wife and family."

Ferrero-Waldner voiced the hope that "the democratic forces in Serbia will be strong enough to prevent extremist forces from benefiting from the assassination." Austria would strongly support democracy in Serbia and Montenegro. Djindjic had been "one of the fathers of Serbian democracy, a man who untiringly stood up for this ideal despite many difficulties. He had represented the new face of Serbia, turned towards Europe."

"In relations with Austria, Mr. Djindjic had always been a friend and reliable partner, often visiting our country. During his visits to Austria and Belgrade he had invariably been an open-minded counterpart in talks whom one liked meeting," Ferrero-Waldner added.

At this point, is was "unclear whether the assassination was to be attributed to organised crime or political opponents." However, "one could assume that the assassinators and those who had pulled the strings in the background possibly sought to undermine the democratic system and the rule of law."

"The assassination reflects the enormous difficulties which the democratic government of Serbia is faced with. The international community must now stand side by side with the democratically oriented forces without reservations to prevent the country and the entire region from being destabilised," Ferrero-Waldner said by way of conclusion.