Prague, 25 August 2004 - On a joint visit with Federal President Heinz Fischer to Prague, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner called the European neighbourhood policy "an essential instrument for strengthening the relations between the EU and its Eastern neighbours, Russia, the States of the Southern Mediterranean and the South Caucasus." Federal Minister Ferrero-Waldner, whose portfolio as an EU Commissioner-designate will also include the shaping of relations to the EU neighbours stressed the primary goal of European neighbourhood policy of sharing the benefits of the 2004 EU enlargement by "strengthening stability, security and welfare of all parties involved. At the same time, this policy serves to prevent new dividing lines between the enlarged Union and its neighbours, which by way of close cooperation in political, security, economic and cultural fields should be given the opportunity to participate in various EU activities", said the Minister for Foreign Affairs. "We shall develop the details of this cooperation step by step over the coming years."
Federal Minister Ferrero-Waldner also made special reference to the significance of the European Constitution, which will provide a foundation for the Union and strengthen it in a decisive way. "I want the European Constitution to come into force as soon as possible, as it contains many important positive elements directly affecting the lives of citizens. Communicating this will be an important task in the months to come." The Foreign Minister said that all were asked to contribute their share on the regional, national and European level. "We must strengthen the acceptance of the Constitution among the people in a sustainable way."
The talks on the bilateral relations centred, among other things, on the improvement of the transport infrastructure between Austria and the Czech Republic: Ferrero-Waldner welcomed the planned extension of the traffic network between Austria and the Czech Republic as "an essential prerequiste for further positive economic development, especially in border areas. I am very pleased that the two transport projects of prime importance, the Vienna-Brno motorway and the railway stretch Linz-Ceske Budejovice have been given priority at the European level as well. This has been an important step towards creating favourable economic framework conditions for Austrian and Czech business people. Therefore, I am confident that the excellent economic relations between our two countries will continue to develop as positively in the future as they have developed in the past."