Speaking in Brussels at a ceremony marking the 25th Anniversary of Austria’s membership in the Partnership for Peace Programme, Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană thanked Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Kornfeind and Austria for “25 years of close cooperation and partnership”.

The Deputy Secretary General also thanked Austria for the “long and substantial support to KFOR and for peace in the Western Balkans”, as well as for Austria’s contribution to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.

Mr. Geoană noted Austria’s role in backing strong ties between the EU and NATO and in hosting the OSCE. Thanking Austria for its support to UN peacekeeping operations and the protection of civilians as well as for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the Deputy Secretary General said that Austria “is helping to keep our continent and our world a safer more secure place to live”.

The Deputy Secretary General noted that the Declaration of Neutrality from 1955 is a central part of Austrian identity. He said that it is up to the people and the governments of free and democratic nations to decide the right security relationships for them and stressed that NATO stands firmly “for the sovereign right of nations to choose their own path”.

He said that the Partnership for Peace Programme has provided a platform for deep cooperation between partners and a clear pathway to membership for those who seek it.

On this 25th anniversary of Austria’s participation, I congratulate all who have worked so hard to make our partnership such a success for a quarter of a century. I am sure it will continue for many, many more years to come”.