Luxembourg, 13 October 2008 Press release

Plassnik on financial crisis: "Clear signal of encouragement and confidence building from Paris"

Foreign Minister at the EU Council in Luxembourg

Luxembourg, 13 October 2008 - “Every crisis so far has also triggered a learning phase at the European level. Recent developments once more demonstrate that the European Union is learning. During the financial crisis we have developed a common European awareness which we are now swiftly acting upon," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, commenting on the current financial crisis in the lead-up to the EU Council meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

The Minister emphatically welcomed the decisions taken at yesterday’s Eurozone meeting in Paris: "The European action plan adopted yesterday is a clear signal of encouragement and confidence building. It creates a concrete framework for concerted action by the individual EU partners. That is an important, positive sign and I am confident that it will also be seen as such in economic circles. Now swift action will follow. At last week’s government meeting Austria already adopted a first set of measures that is now being added to," stated Plassnik.

Asked to comment on relations between the EU and Russia in the light of developments in Georgia, Plassnik stated: "I don’t expect a decision on the resumption of negotiations for a partnership agreement with Russia today. What is important is that the Russian troop withdrawal from the areas adjoining Abkhazia and South Ossetia has completed a further stage in the EU crisis management plan for the Caucasus as agreed. That is an important step that Moscow has taken to rebuild the confidence destroyed in the course of the past weeks. We shall continue our crisis management activities step by step. The next stage are the talks in Geneva which are scheduled to start on 15 October. We expect Russia to show willingness to engage in a constructive commitment there as well. Following these talks we will have a clearer picture and will be in a position to agree on the next moves."

The Foreign Minister expressed her willingness to loosen the restrictive measures taken towards Belarus. "Although the elections held in Belarus on 28 September did not meet our expectations it is important to send out targeted signals of encouragement to Minsk and undertake a constructive review of the existing raft of sanctions with a view to suspending individual measures," concluded Plassnik.

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