Vienna, 7 February 2007 - "The EU Troika has arrived in Belgrade today and will meet under the chairmanship of Frank Walter Steinmeier to affirm the European perspective for Serbia," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik following her meeting with her Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt. "We must signal to Serbia in a credible manner that it is part of the European family. We must encourage the bridge-builders, supporting them with explicit offers which open up clear and practical perspectives for the people in the region. These include the creation of job and income opportunities as well as educational programmes. Austria also advocates a resumption of the EU’s negotiations with Serbia on a stability and association agreement. However, it is also absolutely vital that Serbia cooperates fully with the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. After all, this is part of the rule of law standards characterising the European community of values," said Plassnik.
The Foreign Minister also reported that the EU foreign ministers would meet Martti Ahtisaari at their Council meeting next Monday. "Martti Ahtisaari has our full confidence and support. We know that he is working on a peaceful solution for Kosovo with prudence, farsightedness, and the necessary flexibility," affirmed Plassnik. "Both sides should therefore make use of Ahtisaari’s offer to conduct intensive consultations on his proposal," said Plassnik, who continued: “If Belgrade can give convincing reasons, then I am confident that President Ahtisaari will not oppose a postponement by a few days."
"For us, the Balkans are our immediate neighbourhood. The European perspective of the entire region, of each individual country, is therefore important to us. We want to work on this perspective with all our strength. This is part of the European reunification process," emphasised the Foreign Minister.
The situation in the Middle East had been another important topic. "The international community can and will continue to support the peace process. However, it cannot replace the impetus that must come from the region itself," said the Foreign Minister. She therefore welcomed the latest important incentives such as the meeting of the Middle East Quartet, Saudi Arabia's initiative aimed at reconciliation among the Palestinians or the scheduled trilateral meeting between Palestinian President Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Plassnik referred to the good cooperation with her Swedish colleague within the framework of international organisations, in particular the UN. "For both of us the commitment to peace, human rights and legal certainty is a priority concern which is pro-actively supported by our countries, not least in peace missions. At the same time we try to ensure that the EU lives up to its global responsibility within the UN," concluded Plassnik.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
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