Klagenfurt, 21 December 2007 - "Europe needs strong Carinthians," stressed Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik during a discussion at the Fachhochschule Villach. Plassnik: "Especially for Carinthia, at the crossroads of three major European traditions and cultures, the EU is full of opportunities. We must make use of these. Yet in doing so we must be aware of our special responsibility."
The Foreign Minister demanded a serious European debate on an objective basis and with definite facts. Plassnik: "Talking big will not bring us closer to solutions, and are not an answer to the people’s fears. We must listen very carefully and, above all, we must encourage. I do not want to imagine an EU without Carinthia, and I cannot at all imagine Carinthia without the European Union. Youth is a special ally in the efforts in favour of Europe. All Eurobarometer surveys show that the majority of young people clearly supports the great European peace project."
Plassnik: "The example of the Balkans shows what still remains the objective of the EU. To sustainably secure the European peace project and to complete the reunification of the Balkans with Europe."
"Europe needs a curious and creative youth," Plassnik had previously said in an appeal to the students of the Ingeborg Bachmann Gymnasium in Klagenfurt. The Foreign Minister explained the basic principles of the EU Reform Treaty of Lisbon. "Clear structures, clear distribution of tasks, state-of-the-art fundamental rights catalogue. The municipalities and regions remain the most important European foundation and will benefit from the process. Carinthia has already gained great benefit from Austria’s EU membership," Plassnik explained. "From 2000 to 2006, Carinthia received an average of 70 million Euros. In 2007, this amount even increased to 85 million Euros."
"That was a storm in a teacup," commented Plassnik on the latest irritations around Fürstenstein in Carinthia. The Foreign Minister said "From the point of view of today’s Europe, Fürstenstein symbolizes that we have been living together in this region for a long time, and that several languages were also spoken here in the past. The blue flag with the yellow stars is the symbol of our new unity. Today, we have tangible things in common, such as the Euro, the Single Market, and a Common Foreign Policy. At the beginning of next year, our neighbour and partner Slovenia will take over the EU Presidency. I am convinced that Slovenia will master this great task as the first one in the group that joined the EU in 2004. We wish them all the best."
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