Brussels/Vienna, 19 December 2005 - "The actions of living things cannot be calculated", said Foreign Minister Plassnik today, quoting Kafka at the start of her joint presentation with the Finnish Secretary of State for EU Affairs, Antti Peltomäki, of the Austrian-Finnish Annual Programme for the two EU Presidencies of the coming year.
Plassnik underlined the team spirit with which Austria was approaching her Presidency of the EU and the close cooperation between Austria and Finland in their preparations for their forthcoming Presidencies. The latter had worked outstandingly well at all levels, and was therefore highly likely to serve as a model for future Presidencies too.
After a barren year fraught with difficulties, the agreement on the Financial Perspective had brought a tangible feeling of relief in Europe, said Plassnik, and the expectations placed in the forthcoming Austrian Presidency were correspondingly high. In the coming half year Austria would do her best to render this service to 500 million Europeans in a pragmatic manner and with an eye for the possible.
Foreign Minister Plassnik went on to present the "philosophy" of the Austrian EU Presidency, especially highlighting the desire to create a more positive prevailing mood in and towards Europe and to strengthen the citizens' confidence in the European Project. "Our common long-term goal must be to make Europe more transparent, more up-to-date and more tangible and accessible for the citizens", said Plassnik.
Asked about the further fate of the Constitutional Treaty, Plassnik expressed her expectation that the phase of reflection would gain in dynamism and intensity in the coming months. In this connection the Foreign Minister reminded her audience of the two conferences - one on European culture and identity (The Sound of Europe) and the other on subsidiarity - which will be organised by the Austrian Presidency.
"We have to develop a joint choreography", continued Plassnik, stressing that this was the only way of achieving greater clarity in Europe's process of "finding itself". Whatever the case, over-hasty prescriptions or clever legal tricks would not be sufficient.
Despite these major internal challenges, Europe must not become too wrapped up in itself. In this context Plassnik pointed in particular to the Western Balkans as a "natural focus for Austria", emphasising that the European perspective was an essential element in promoting stability as well as a driving force for reforms in the states of this region.
Concluding, Plassnik formulated three wishes for the future to which she hoped the Austrian Presidency would contribute: more confidence, more clarity and more impetus.
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