New York, 11 November 2009 Press release

The Central European Initiative celebrates its 20th anniversary

Spindelegger: "Its foundation two days after the fall of the Wall was deeply symbolic"

New York, 11 November 2009 - The Central European Initiative (CEI) was founded in Budapest on 11 November 1989, supported by the then Foreign Minister Alois Mock, who made an essential contribution to its establishment. In 1989, the year of the turnabout, Austria, Hungary, Italy and the then Yugoslavia expressed their will to cooperate, which signified a new dawn. At the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Central European Initiative Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger emphasised the historic significance of this regional forum for Europe: "Since its establishment the Central European Initiative has undergone major changes. As the largest regional partnership it has an important role to play, for instance in promoting the rapprochement of the EU’s neighbouring regions with the European Union."

Austria would continue to advocate a strong CEI, said Spindelegger. "We need the CEI as an important incentive for the European Union. We must make still better use of this Initiative as a platform for creative ideas and as a project initiator for positioning Central Europe successfully within Europe," Spindelegger went on.

Since its foundation the Central European Initiative has adjusted to geopolitical developments with regard to both structure and content. Meanwhile, nine EU member states and nine non-EU member states have joined the institution. One goal, therefore, is to further the adjustment of the EU´s neighbouring countries to EU standards: "We want to support those countries which do not belong to the EU by channelling targeted funds into forward-looking projects and ensuring the transfer of know-how in order to bring those countries closer to the EU," stated Spindelegger. The climate fund, which had been created as a result of an Austrian initiative, was a good example of this, he added.

As of 1 January 2010, Austria’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Gerhard Pfanzelter, will assume the function of Secretary General of the Trieste-based Initiative. "I am delighted to be able to present Ambassador Pfanzelter, who is an experienced diplomat with longstanding multilateral experience. I am convinced that Pfanzelter will successfully master the challenges in hand," affirmed Spindelegger, who assured the new Secretary General of his full support in fulfilling his new assignment.

Today, the CEI is a forum for political, economic and cultural cooperation between its member states. The Initiative is composed of 18 states: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Austria, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Belarus. The territory of these states covers 2.4 million square kilometres and is inhabited by 240 million people.

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