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Minister Rupel presents Slovenia’s EU Council Presidency priorities to the OSCE Permanent Council

The President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Dimitrij Rupel today at the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna presented Slovenia’s EU Council Presidency priorities, placing particular emphasis on the role of the OSCE as a valued partner of the European Union, since "both organisations pursue a number of common objectives".

Dr Rupel began his address by saying that although the EU and the OSCE are two distinct entities, they "are inevitably connected when it comes to common values, goals and responsibilities". "The OSCE has always been a forum where states were able to overcome their differences on the basis of dialogue, common values and the overwhelming sense of common responsibility," he stressed.

"We are living in an important moment in the history of the EU," continued Dr Rupel, adding that, "Slovenia is proud to be the first among the new Member States to hold the Presidency." During its Presidency, Slovenia will work on five main priority areas, namely the future of the European Union and the timely implementation of the Reform Treaty, the successful launching of the new Lisbon Strategy cycle, climate and energy issues, the strengthening of the European perspective for the Western Balkans and the dialogue between cultures, religions and traditions within the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

According to Dr Rupel, Slovenia’s main task in terms of the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty is to encourage its successful ratification. "Slovenia wants to provide a good example and plans to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible." Furthermore, the Slovenian Presidency will make every effort to successfully implement the Lisbon Strategy "aiming to make Europe the most competitive and the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world."

In his address, Dr Rupel pointed to the stability of South-Eastern Europe as being of "crucial importance for the security and prosperity of the entire European Union". Bearing this in mind, the Presidency wishes to strengthen the European perspective for the countries of the Western Balkans. Slovenia will seek to put the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda into practice and also boost regional cooperation in several areas. "The process of enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy is at the top of our agenda," said Dr Rupel. In this context, he also mentioned the issue of Kosovo, noting that "the EU fully supports the OSCE’s activities in Kosovo" and that "the continued presence of the OSCE in the key areas of human rights monitoring, institution- and capacity-building and the rule of law is as relevant now as ever." The Minister also added that "the EU is therefore firmly convinced that the OSCE Mission in Kosovo must be able to continue its important work".

Among the important tasks Dr Rupel pinpointed intercultural dialogue, since it constituted the foundation for the co-existence of all European citizens. The Presidency sees such dialogue as "the basis for long-term EU action rather than a one-off event".

Dr Rupel concluded by expressing EU support for the activities of the OSCE and also said that the Slovenian Presidency would work to improve and intensify cooperation between the EU and the OSCE in addressing various issues.


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Date: 25.01.2008