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Austria: prospective inclusion of the far-right Freedom Party in a coalition government.

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News Release

Laurie Brereton, MP

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs


3 February 2000


Austria: Prospective Inclusion Of The Far-Right Freedom Party

In A Coalition Government


The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurie Brereton, today called on the Howard Government to consider suspension of ministerial and high-level diplomatic contact with Austria in the event that a new government includes the far-right Freedom Party. Austrian President Thomas Klestil is expected to approve the formation of a new Austrian Government later today.

"The prospective inclusion of Joerg Haider's neo-fascist Freedom Party in a coalition government will do enormous damage to Austria's international standing", Mr Brereton said.

"The entry of the Freedom Party into power will give encouragement to other extreme-right political groups in Europe and beyond. While internal democratic processes should be respected, the international community must register its disapproval of this prospective development in very strong terms."

"Neo-fascist and other extremist groups must be left in no doubt that the world community considers the politics of racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism to be utterly unacceptable."

In an unprecedented move, the European Union has foreshadowed consideration of freezing political ties with Vienna if the Freedom Party is allowed into power. Portugal, which currently holds the Presidency of the EU, has announced that Portugese President Jorge Sampaio will not proceed with a planned visit to Austria next month. The United States has warned that it will review and downgrade diplomatic relations. Israel has announced it will recall its Ambassador from Vienna in the event a coalition government is formed which includes the Freedom Party.

On 7 January, Foreign Minister Downer announced the appointment of a new Australian Ambassador to Austria, Mr Max William Hughes. Mr Hughes is also to be accredited as Australia's Permanent Representative to international organisations with headquarters in Vienna including the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation.

"While it would be appropriate for Mr Hughes to take up his important multilateral responsibilities, the Australian Government should reconsider proceeding with his accreditation as Ambassador to Austria in the event the new Austrian Government includes the Freedom Party", Mr Brereton said. "In such circumstances, Ministerial and high-level diplomatic contact with Austria should be the subject of immediate review."

"Foreign Minister Downer is in Brussels today meeting with members of the European Commission. He should make it clear that Australia strongly supports sending a very direct message to Austria that neo-fascism and racism have absolutely no place in the new century."



jy  2000-02-08  09:15