Vienna, 16 June 2004 - Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner received her counterpart from Serbia and Montenegro Vuk Draskovic in Vienna. Their talks focused on the future development in South Eastern Europe and on paving the way for a closer association of the region with the European Union. Ferrero-Waldner showed herself very pleased about the official visit of her colleague, all the more so as he has been appointed to the office only very recently. "The state of Serbia and Montenegro is an important partner of Austria in South Eastern Europe. Our two countries boast very intense and harmonious relations", said the Foreign Minister. "It goes without saying that everything that happens in Belgrade, Podgorica or Pristina, also has an impact on Austria", emphasised Ferrero-Waldner and added: "We have also discussed in detail the political situation in Serbia after the presidential elections, the recent events in Kosovo and the future of the state federation of Serbia and Montenegro."
With regard to Kosovo, the Foreign Minister stressed that currently a joint paper on Kosovo was being prepared with Austria’s active support in the framework of the Regional Partnership. In her opinion it was very positive that the Regional Partnership addressed this important issue. Moreover, there were plans to present this paper for consideration in political decision-making at the EU level.
Ferrero-Waldner highlighted the importance of the participation of Serbia and Montenegro in the stabilisation and association process aimed at closer relations between the EU and the states of the Western Balkans. "Convergence with EU standards is vital. To this end, the EU grants comprehensive support ", said the Foreign Minister. She mentioned the EU’s CARDS regional project launched on 1 May 2004, in which Austria plays a major role and which makes available 5.5 million euro for reforms in the field of jurisdiction.
Ferrero-Waldner praised the role of Serbia and Montenegro in the Danube area cooperation initiative and stressed that a speedy revision of the Belgrade Agreement regarding Shipping on the Danube was important. "The paramount importance of the Danube’s potential as a transport route in the Danube area and for the development of the entire region has also been top-priority on our meeting agenda. Serbia and Montenegro has been an active and constructive partner in this regional process from the very beginning."
The Foreign Minister concluded by drawing attention to a project on the destruction of landmines in Serbia and Montenegro: "Austria is prepared to realise this project under the Partnership for Peace Trust Fund in close cooperation with Serbia and Montenegro. The aim of the project is to destroy the entire stockpile of landmines in Serbia and Montenegro by 2008. This will also bring us considerably closer to our ultimate goal of making South Eastern Europe a landmine-safe region."
Finally, Ferrero-Waldner accepted Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic’s invitation to Serbia and Montenegro scheduled for autumn of this year.