Brussels, 22 January 2007 - "In an impressive vote the Serb people have sent a clear signal that they want the European course to be continued. Yesterday’s elections in Serbia are not only an expression of the democratic maturity of the country but also of the confidence of the people of Serbia on their path to a common Europe," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, showing her pleasure at the orderly and fair conduct of the parliamentary elections held last Sunday in Serbia.
"The election’s clear strengthening of the reform-oriented forces is a strong sign of encouragement - people in Serbia want their country to turn from a spectator into an active participant. They have clearly voted for a European future," continued the Foreign Minister. "Today, the European Union has again clearly affirmed that Serbia’s future lies in a common Europe. We have extended our hand and it is now up to Serbia to grasp it embarking on a European course and pursuing it consistently," she added.
Plassnik also recalled that she had repeatedly called for a resumption of the interrupted negotiations on a stabilisation and association agreement with the Union. "My objective is to ensure that the EU has a contractual relationship with all countries of the Western Balkans by the end of 2007. But we shall not compromise on the necessary requirements and we now expect movement on the Serbian side," stated the Foreign Minister, referring to the necessary cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.
Commenting on the future status of Kosovo, the Foreign Minister emphasised the EU’s united support for UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and his team. "I have full confidence in Ahtisaari’s abilities and experience. I am convinced that he will achieve a sustainable solution to the status question," said Plassnik. The Foreign Minister also expressed her expectation that Belgrade would show a constructive attitude towards the status process. "This attitude must be aimed at the interests of all people living in Kosovo, in particular the minorities, and it also includes Belgrade encouraging the Kosovo Serbs to actively participate in the Kosovan institutions," stressed Plassnik.
Finally, the Foreign Minister referred to the good bilateral relations between Austria and Serbia, which were underpinned only last week by another visit to Serbia by Plassnik. "For Austria, Serbia is a key partner in the Balkans and I am convinced that this close trustful relationship will be continued and developed," concluded the Foreign Minister.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
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