Brussels, 19 November 2007 - "We should not be skipping stages, but must take one step after the other", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the sidelines of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council with regard to the persistent efforts of the Kosovo troika to achieve a negotiated solution of the status problem. "The ideal scenario would be a mutual agreement. The troika is working on this with great intensity, leaving no stone unturned. Therefore, it would be improper to speculate on safeguard positions in this phase", the Minister continued.
"We are taking this negotiation window very seriously, and we expect the same from our partners in Belgrade and Pristina. Both sides are called upon to make a constructive contribution. Time is running out. December 10 is approaching in huge steps", said Plassnik.
The Minister underscored that awareness among EU Member States regarding the need for a united position of the EU on the Kosovo problem is clearly on the rise. "We shall unwaveringly continue our encouragement policy for Serbs and Kosovars. Belgrade and Pristina should not be fixated on a single word. They must be encouraged to shift their attention to the common European future and neighbourhood."
Austria will remain actively engaged in this issue as well. Following the Kosovo women’s conference in early November, Austria is planning an event titled "Security for All in Kosovo" on November 30, which will be attended by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, UNMIK Chief Joachim Rücker, and the Director for Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability in the EU Council Secretariat, Pieter Feith.
Plassnik finally praised the peaceful and quiet elections in Kosovo, something she said is by no means self-evident considering the tense emotional situation there. She described it as a drop of bitterness, however, that the Serbian representatives had not participated in the elections. "This is still about shaping the future of the country, and participation and codetermination would have been the right thing, not standing on the sidelines."
The Minister also pointed out to today's discussion she had with the Defence Minister on the status of preparations for the Chad mission and on the upcoming EU-Africa summit in December. "By organizing the conference 'Peace and Security in West Africa' in Burkina Faso last week, Austria made a tangible contribution to the preparation of the summit. Together with our African and European partners, we shall further pursue the concrete proposals contained in the declaration of Ouagadougou, such as the establishment of a West African centre for renewable energies and a stronger integration of women."
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