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Ursula Plassnik Edit Profile

diplomat , politician , Member of the National Council of Austria

Ursula Plassnik is an Austrian diplomat and politician.

Background

Plassnik is from the Austrian state of Carinthia and grew up in a social democratic family. She was born in Klagenfurt on 23 May 1956.

Education

She received a law degree from the University of Vienna in 1978 and a postgraduate Certificate of Advanced European Studies (equivalent to a master's degree) from the College of Europe in Bruges, where she studied 1979–1980 (Salvador de Madariaga promotion).

Career

She was Foreign Minister of Austria between October 2004 and December 2008. From 1971 to 1972 she was an exchange student at the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia, United States. Subsequently, she worked in different positions in the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs until 1997.

On 1 July 1997 she was chosen by Wolfgang Schüssel, who was Austrian vice-chancellor at that time, to become his cabinet chief. She is considered to be a close friend and confidante to Schüssel. She remained cabinet chief in Schüssel's government until 15 January 2004, when she became Austria's ambassador to Switzerland.

Recently, Ursula Plassnik’s application for the position as secretary-general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has been vetoed by Turkey, because of her opposition to that country's bid to join the European Union. She was appointed foreign minister on 18 October 2004, and sworn in on 20 October succeeding Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who resigned to become a European commissioner. She joined the Austrian People's Party after receiving the offer to become foreign minister.

On 2 December 2008 she was succeeded by Michael Spindelegger.

Politics

Until that time she was considered to be politically neutral or even social-democratic. In 2000 she refused an offer to work for the Council of Europe in order to stay in Austria and help Wolfgang Schüssel when he became Austrian Chancellor in a coalition government with the Austrian Freedom Party.