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Minister Rupel heads EU Troika-New Zealand meeting

Dr Dimitrij Rupel, President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council and Slovenian Foreign Minister, chaired a meeting of the EU Troika with New Zealand today in Brdo pri Kranju. The Troika meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, Winston Peters, and by a representative of the Commission and of the Secretary-General of the EU Council.

Dr Rupel began by assessing the excellent bilateral relations between the EU and New Zealand. In September 2007, the European Union and New Zealand agreed on a Joint Declaration on European Union-New Zealand relations, which should regulate their mutual relations for at least five subsequent years. Minister Rupel said that on the basis of this Joint Declaration, we have already succeeded in deepening and broadening our close relationships. The European Union deeply appreciates the commercial and economic relations, as well as the increased cooperation in a number of areas – education, research, science and technology.

The meeting was then followed by a review of certain agreements to be signed in the near future. Dr Rupel said he is pleased to observe that signing the Agreement on Technological Cooperation could already take place before the summer. Also in preparation are agreements on air traffic services and trade in wine.

Another topic of the meeting between the EU Troika and New Zealand was cooperation in the area of interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Minister Rupel stated that understanding between religions, tolerance and respect are key elements of peaceful co-existence in today’s globalised world.  However, even though we participate in this dialogue, we must not forget the fundamental values in the area of human rights, especially the freedom of speech and the freedom of religious beliefs or convictions. The European Union participates in several initiatives in the area of promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding.  In this area, the EU actively participates through the Anne Lindh Foundation, in the interreligious dialogue ASEM and the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008. The Member States and the European Commission, which are members of the Group of the Alliance of Civilizations, are considering possibilities for closer cooperation. Dr Rupel concluded that in our neighbourhood, in the Western Balkans, it is crucial to develop intercultural and interreligious dialogue, which is an essential instrument for the stabilisation and progress of the entire region.

In the second part of the EU Troika-New Zealand meeting, the emphasis was placed on political dialogue focused on topical international issues. Views were exchanged about the situation in Kosovo, Afghanistan and the Middle East, as well as about climate change and relations in the Asia-Pacific region.


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Date: 02.05.2008