Central Asia, Kosovo key issues for German EU

18th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

18 January 2007, Vienna (dpa) - Stability and development in Central Asia are key concerns for the European Union, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Vienna Thursday. Steinmeier, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, presented the German presidency's priorities to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). "We need Central Asia also as a partner against drug-trafficking, organized crime, illegal migration, Islamist infiltration and

18 January 2007

Vienna (dpa) - Stability and development in Central Asia are key concerns for the European Union, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Vienna Thursday.

Steinmeier, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, presented the German presidency's priorities to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

"We need Central Asia also as a partner against drug-trafficking, organized crime, illegal migration, Islamist infiltration and terrorism," he told delegates from the 56 OSCE member states.

The EU initiative towards Central Asia is part of a three-tiered approach by the German presidency, the other two being a strengthening of the EU's strategic partnership with Russia and intensifying relations with the EU's neighbouring states.

Steinmeier stressed that the future status of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo was a central issue and that creating a "multiethnic Kosovo" remained the goal of the international community.

Stability was only possible when both a large majority of the ethnic Albanian majority agreed to a compromise solution they regard acceptable and the Serb minority do not regard themselves as unilateral losers, Steinmeier warned.

While there was no tangible success concerning the conflicts in Moldova and the southern Caucasus region, Steinmeier expressed the hope of reaching a common basis for conflict-resolution and stressed that the international community must not get used to the standstill in the region's frozen conflicts.

If the EU saw readiness for constructive dialogue, Steinmeier promised the union's full support.

Steinmeier hailed the OSCE as a forum for open political dialogue, while admitting that this dialogue could not always be pleasant. Steinmeier rejected criticism of the OSCE's election monitoring missions voiced in recent years by Russia and other former Soviet states.

Accusations that monitoring missions were "instruments for regime change" were not justified, he said.

"Regime changes happen due to election results and not because of monitoring," he added.

However, OSCE members "can and must" give attention to the internal affairs of other OSCE members "on the basis of equality," Steinmeier said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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