Vienna, 3 December 2004 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met for working talks in Vienna today with Governor Luis Durnwalder of South Tyrol as well as the Chairman of the South Tyrolean People’s Party Elmar Pichler-Rolle and a delegation of their party. As regards transit traffic across the Alps, the discussions focussed on the European Commission’s plan to co-finance the Brenner base tunnel to a higher extent than previously intended. Furthermore, the relations between Austria and South Tyrol, especially Austria’s protective function, the effects on South Tyrol of the Italian constitutional reform and the cross-border cooperation between local and regional authorities were also on the agenda of the meeting.
"The Commission’s plan to finance the Brenner base tunnel to a higher extent than originally intended is very positive", said Foreign Minister Plassnik. This infrastructure project, which is a priority for the EU too, is a matter of common interest to both Austria and South Tyrol and constitutes an important building block for a sustainable and future-oriented traffic and transport policy, according to the Foreign Minister.
"Each meeting with the political leaders of South Tyrol strengthens the mutual trust between South Tyrol and Austria and makes Austria’s protective function visible towards the exterior", emphasised Plassnik, assuring her visitors that in her capacity as Austrian Foreign Minister she would be fully committed to continuing the traditional Austrian policy concerning South Tyrol: "South Tyrol remains a matter dear to Austria's heart."
"As regards the protective function held by Austria vis-à-vis South Tyrol, we feel that it is especially important to continue safeguarding the development of autonomy and avoid any impairment", stated the Foreign Minister, emphasising the great importance of agreement between the political forces in Austria and South Tyrol on the issue of South Tyrol’s autonomy.
Austria is keeping a close eye on the reform of the Italian constitution, according to Plassnik. "I am very glad that the dangers arising in this connection for South Tyrol’s autonomy have been successfully averted. Alongside the parliamentary members of the South Tyrolean People’s Party, Austria too has made a not insignificant contribution to this success", emphasised the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Plassnik expressed her full support for the cross-border cooperation between local and regional authorities. "I would like to see the cooperation expand and deepen, especially the cooperation between Tyrol and South Tyrol and Trentino within the EUREGIO framework", stressed the Foreign Minister.