New York, 23 September 2006 - "Our active international network is showing concrete results," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik following numerous talks held with counterparts on the margins of the 61st UN General Assembly in New York. In addition to the Middle East, these talks focused on the Western Balkans, which are located in Austria’s direct neighbourhood.
The situation in the Western Balkans was addressed in talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In addition, the EU’s Foreign Ministers met with UN chief negotiator for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, on the fringes of the UN General Assembly.
"We are working to give the Balkan states their rightful place in Europe by including them in Europe’s reunification," said the Foreign Minister in her speech before the UN General Assembly in New York, adding that "a confident, peaceful and prosperous Serbia that is fully integrated into the family of European nations is crucial for the stability of the whole region."
"The Euro-Atlantic perspective is the central point of orientation for our Serbian friends and neighbours," emphasised Plassnik. For that reason the Regional Partnership countries at their latest meeting in Vienna had agreed on a catalogue of 10 specific areas in which visible support was to be granted to Serbia’s process of rapprochement with the EU. One of these measures relates to Serbia’s possible joining of NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme. "I have also discussed the necessity of close transatlantic cooperation with our partners in NATO and in the US. Accession to NATO’s Partnership for Peace would be another important and welcome sign of encouragement to Serbia," said the Foreign Minister.
"Swift resumption of the negotiations on an EU stabilisation and association agreement with Serbia would also be of great significance in order to leverage the entire potential of our relations. However, full cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague is a precondition for this," continued Plassnik. With its idea of an action plan Austria had provided an essential stimulus aimed at ending the stalemate in this issue. "Of course, an action plan alone is not enough. Specific, tangible results are needed in its implementation to ensure swift and full cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal," Plassnik stressed.
"Austria is and will remain a reliable advocate for the region at all levels. Together with our regional partners we are spearheading a process which makes Serbia a topical issue within the EU and in international fora," concluded Plassnik.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
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