Vienna, 2 November 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Confidence-builders should be mobilised in Serbia and Kosovo"


Statement by the Foreign Minister in the run-up to the International Women’s Symposium

on Kosovo in Vienna

Vienna, 2 November 2007 - "Particularly now when the Kosovo status talks are in their intensive stage it is important to make common interests visible and sharpen the view for a common future," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, referring to the Women’s Symposium on Kosovo to be held in Vienna on 5-6 November, which will bring together Serbian and Kosovar women holding leading positions in politics, media, business and civil society. The event is devoted to the motto "Shaping our European Future - Networking of Serbian and Kosovar Women."

"We want to contribute to building a solid basis for our common European future. To this end, we must strengthen our ties and establish a closer neighbourhood network. We must not confine ourselves to the status issue. We have to mobilise people who are able to build confidence in Serbia and Kosovo. Regardless of what Kosovo’s status eventually turns out to be, the people of Kosovo and Serbia will continue to be neighbours," emphasised Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister pointed out that a duplication of the status negotiations was not the issue. The aim of the conference was rather to find new ways of strengthening good neighbourliness and, in this effort, women had to play a special role. "Women are not sufficiently integrated in the Kosovo status negotiations. As women are practice-oriented, they can make an important contribution to overcoming barriers of all kinds. The fact that so many committed women are participating in this conference is an encouraging sign of their readiness to listen to one another beyond the confines of politics and ethnic groups, and make themselves heard. 50 percent of the Serbian and Kosovar populations are women - it is therefore important to leverage their potential right now on the path to a common European future," stated Plassnik.

The Women’s Symposium on Kosovo is deliberately focusing on specific fields of cooperation which in the status negotiations have received only little attention so far: education, social affairs, business and media. "What we need is a broad, more intensive dialogue between neighbours and targeted networking. In Serbia and Kosovo, Austria is strongly committed to these efforts at all levels. This conference constitutes a further piece in our mosaic of endeavours to use all positive means to establish contacts and exert influence in the region," continued Plassnik.

The symposium will bring together leading Serbian and Kosovar representatives from all spheres of life. The list of participants includes Minister of Youth Snezana Samardzic-Markovic and Deputy Foreign Minister Milica Delevic from Serbia, the Kosovar politicians Nekibe Kelmendi and Edita Tahiri, the Serbian human rights activist Natasa Kandic, the women’s rights activist and chairperson of the Kosovar public broadcasting corporation Vjosa Dobruna, as well as Radmila Milivojevic, Vice-President of the Serbian Economic Chamber, and Flaka Surroi, Director of the largest Kosovar media group.

Federal Ministry for
European and international Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213