|05VIENNA2670||2005-08-09 09:04:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Vienna|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. Summary: The Austrian Government and the Stability
Pact for Southeastern Europe hosted leaders from six
southeastern European countries from 2-3 August for the
4th informal "Balkans Summit." Participants discussed
the region's expectations for EU membership, establishing
a common trade zone (an expanded CEFTA), encouraging more
direct investment, and intensifying regional cooperation
in law enforcement and humanitarian areas. Austria
promised to make rapprochement between the EU and
southeastern Europe a permanent theme during its upcoming
EU Presidency in the first half of 2006. Austrian
Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik reiterated Austria's
strong support for Croatian EU membership. End Summary.
2. Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and Foreign
Minister Ursula Plassnik welcomed Prime Ministers from
Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia
and Montenegro to the 4th informal Balkans Summit on
August 2-3, 2005. Stability Pact Coordinator (and former
Austrian Vice-Chancellor) Erhard Busek also attended the
gathering. According to Schuessel and press reporting,
discussion focused on EU membership perspectives for the
countries of the region and expectations of support from
the Austrian EU Presidency during the first half of 2006.
The ministers also discussed creating a free trade zone
by expanding the Central European Free Trade Agreement
(CEFTA), increasing incentives to attract more direct
investment, and intensifying regional cooperation in the
areas of law enforcement and humanitarian relief.
3. Foreign Minister Plassnik promised to make EU
perspectives for southeastern European countries "a
permanent theme" of Austria's EU presidency in 2006. In
this context, Macedonian PM Vlado Buckovski said, "it is
important that during Austria's EU Presidency the door
toward Europe be pushed open for all Balkan countries."
Plassnik left no doubt about Austria's strong support for
Croatian EU membership, emphasizing that "Croatia's path
to EU membership serves as a model for its neighbors in
the region." Croatian PM Ivo Sanader underlined his
country's request to begin accession talks with the EU as
soon as possible.
4. EU Stability Pact Coordinator Busek highlighted the
economic progress of the region, noting that trade in the
region has doubled since the end of armed conflicts in
the area. Chancellor Schuessel said the meeting was also
about the "reinvention of Europe," a process in which
"countries of the region would find their place in Europe
again after a turbulent past."