Bucharest, 14 July 2004 - Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner took part in the Second Ministerial Conference of the Danube Co-operation Process (DCP) founded by the 13 Danubian countries, the European Commission and the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe in 2002. Ferrero-Waldner emphasised the importance of this initiative for the economic and political development of the region: "The DCP is an ideal platform for the Danubian countries to voice their concerns and goals, to work out joint action programmes, and to benefit thus from the integrative potential of this vital European artery. I am convinced that the Danube space has the potential to evolve into a very dynamic region of Europe."
Ferrero-Waldner pointed out three issues as being of particular importance for the successful development of the region and its European integration: The first one was to improve the transport system in a sustainable way. "The advantages of the Danube as an important transport route are still far from being fully exploited. The Danube as the largest European internal waterway must be given a much more vital role within the European transport network in the future. The DCP offers a perfect platform for developing sustainable traffic and transport concepts."
The second priority as defined by the Foreign Minister is the protection of the environment and the sustainable use of resources in the Danube space: "I am highly pleased that all DCP countries are willing to prioritise environmental protection as a common and important goal for the development of the region, because an intact environment is a basic prerequisite for securing the economic prosperity of the region," said Ferrero-Waldner.
Thirdly, Ferrero-Waldner stressed that cooperation in the areas of tourism and culture had to be intensified: "The Danubian countries feature fascinating landscapes, and visitors should be encouraged to enjoy their beauty in gentle ways. Scientific cooperation between universities and joint cultural projects additionally reinforce our network and reflect common concerns and issues."
By way of conclusion, Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner announced that Austria had a gift for the DCP on the occasion of its second anniversary: "I am very pleased to announce that Austria, as a token of its commitment and its appreciation of this co-operation project, has designed a website for the Danube Co-operation Process, the so-called DANUBE PORTAL (www.danubecooperation.org), which aims to raise the visitors' awareness of this extraordinarily beautiful region and the DCP’s manifold and promising activities."