Brussels, 16 October 2008 Press release

Plassnik on Syria and Lebanon: "Long-awaited signal of normalisation of neighbourly relationship"

Foreign Minister on establishment of diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon

Brussels, 16 October 2008 - "Syria’s decision to establish an embassy in Lebanon is a long-awaited signal of encouragement in the Middle East. With this step, Syria is laying the foundation for normalising its bilateral relations with Lebanon and making an important contribution to additional stability in the region," stated Federal Minister Ursula Plassnik, commenting on the respective announcement by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Austria firmly believes in Syria’s potential to be a constructive partner and neighbour in the region. All forces in the Middle East are called upon to contribute to stability and peaceful neighbourly development. The European Union will continue its efforts to provide proactive support for the long-term improvement of relations between Syria and Lebanon," continued Plassnik.

The Minister reminded her audience that the cornerstone for the establishment of regular diplomatic relations had been laid at the Euro-Mediterranean summit held in July in Paris. According to the Federal Minister, Austria, too, was making contributions to stability in the region: as an example Plassnik cited the Conference on the Reconstruction of the Palestinian Refugee Camp Nahr El Bared, which was organised jointly with the Lebanese government last June in Vienna and attended by high-ranking representatives of the entire donor community.

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