During a visit to Vienna on 18 November, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer praised Austria for its contribution to NATO’s missions and Partnership for Peace programme.
The Secretary General discussed partnership activities with President Heinz Fischer, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik and Defence Minister Günther Platter.
A good model
Speaking at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry, Mr. De Hoop Scheffer said Austria was “a good model for other partner countries”.
The talks focused on possible ways of expanding partnership programmes, including with countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia. At the Istanbul Summit in June this year, NATO decided to place a special emphasis on cooperation with countries in these two regions.
The Secretary General also discussed the evolving and ever closer cooperation between NATO and the EU, of which Austria is a member.
“Together NATO and the European Union have a their disposal a broad spectrum of tools – both civil and military,” Mr. De Hoop Scheffer said in a speech in German at the Austrian Academy of National Defence.
“And it is exactly the combination we need to tackle successfully today’s security challenges,” he said.
Austria and NATO
Austria has been a NATO partner country since 1994. It has contributed to NATO’s missions and operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan, and provided assistance to other partner countries in areas such as disaster relief, destruction of stockpiled munitions and defence reform.
This was Mr. De Hoop Scheffer’s first visit to Austria since his appointment as Secretary General this year and part of his continuing round of visits to NATO and partner countries.