Brussels, 10 November 2008 Press release

Winkler: "We must speak with Russia, and not constantly about it"

State Secretary Hans Winkler at the European Union Council for General Affairs and External Relations in Brussels

Brussels, 10 November 2008 - "We must speak with and not constantly about Russia". Therefore, we believe the time has come for the EU to resume negotiations with Russia over a new partnership agreement. The range of issues to be covered by the new treaty is very diversified. Apart from business, trade, and energy, the treaty also aims at further strengthening our relations in other key areas ranging from commerce and tourism to climate protection", said State Secretary Hans Winkler at the Council for General Affairs and External Relations.

"A dialogue in partnership will also enable us to speak openly about issues over which we disagree. Such a dialogue is necessary. I believe that constructive cooperation and tough negotiations will yield more than a confrontational approach", said Winkler. The EU, however, maintains its principal position: “Abkhazia and South Ossetia clearly belong to Georgia. Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over its entire state territory must be protected. We cannot let new facts be established and recognized through unilateral military actions."

When asked about the announcement on the stationing of short-range missiles in Kaliningrad, the State Secretary said: "Measures like these are definitely not useful, and Russia ought to reconsider them."

Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Katharina Swoboda
Office of the State Secretary
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3469