Ljubljana, 25 July 2006 Press release

Winkler: "Close political friendship with Slovenia"


State Secretary Hans Winkler visits Slovenia

Ljubljana, 25 July 2006 - "For years now Slovenia and Austria have been united by a close political friendship, which has developed in an extremely positive spirit of partnership since Slovenia became an independent state. Within the framework of our already traditional exchange of information we are especially concerned to pass on the experiences we gained during the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union to Slovenia, who will take over the Presidency in the first half of 2008," said State Secretary Hans Winkler after a meeting with the entire Slovenian government under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Janez Janša.

"The Presidency of the Council is a special challenge for every country, but also an opportunity to bring one's own strengths and experiences more strongly to bear at a European level. Problems and challenges can only be jointly mastered with passion, persistence and understanding for national sensibilities", the State Secretary continued.

"Fortunately, a united Europe has now become reality. However, we must not rest on our laurels and the accomplishments of the last few years. Pushing ahead developments and improving processes is not merely the task of a small group, but something to which all of us must contribute as far as we are able. There is absolutely nothing to be gained from grumbling and carping. Results are the only thing that counts. Over the last few months we were able to prove that you can get things moving and create change if you want to", said the State Secretary with conviction.

Winkler also expressed his pleasure with the results of various opinion polls on the overall performance of the Austrian Presidency of the Council. "The fact that the overwhelming majority of Austrians were satisfied with the Austrian EU Presidency, and, in addition, that their interest in the EU has grown, is an encouraging sign. Europe is slowly regaining a greater place in people's hearts. The period of the EU Presidency is certainly a good opportunity for every country to explain the added value Europe brings, along with the various EU procedures and processes. What we want to see is a critical and open debate about Europe, and we will definitely be continuing this debate undiminished from now on."

Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Mag. Katharina Swoboda
Cabinet of the State Secretary
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3469