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Vol 3, No 14
23 April 2001
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News from Austria News from Austria
All the important news
since 14 April 2001

Magali Perrault


More discussions on Temelín

View today's updated headlines from Austria

In an interview for the Volksblatt published on Saturday 21 April, Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel addressed the issue of the Czech Temelín nuclear plant. He condemned the measures taken by the Czech government to guarantee the reactor's safety as incomplete, and presented German safety standards as the goal the Czech Republic should aim for. Adding that there was at present no European standard in this field, Schüssel said that Austria would take up the issue during the next European summit in Göteborg.

The chancellor made it clear, however, that Austria will not use its veto to prevent Czech membership in the European Union: "Keeping the Czech Republic out of the EU," Schüssel said, would mean that "nothing would change at all in Temelín."

Earlier in the week, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner of the People's Party (ÖVP) also said that Austria would not link Czech EU membership with the Temelín issue. Her declaration was criticised by the Freedom Party, the ÖVP's junior partner in the federal government.


"Old neighbours, new partners:" Austria supports Slovenia's EU membership

Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel was in Graz on Thursday to attend a meeting with Slovene leaders. Appealing for an end to old clichés and stereotypes, he argued for a "new vision of the past" and stated that Austria will support Slovenia during its negotiations with the EU. Waltraud Klasnic, the governor of Styria, added that economic relations between Austria and Slovenia are "very, very good."


Troubles in the education system

One thousand teachers from Vorarlberg demonstrated again on Friday against the government's savings plans. Education Minister Elisabeth Gehrer, who had come to inaugurate a high school in Lustenau, stated that "the federal budget had to be stabilised," an argument contested by the teachers, who have threatened to go out on strike.

The Green Party, meanwhile, began this week to collect signatures opposing the government's decision to introduce tuition fees in Austrian universities. The Greens need to collect 100,000 signatures to force Parliament to consider a potential referendum on the issue.


Häupl finalises his governing team

The recently re-elected Social Democratic mayor of Vienna, Michael Häupl, finalised the formation of his governing team this week. Grete Laska (Social Affairs and Youth), Sepp Rieder (Finance and Economy), Renate Brauner (Integration and Women's Affairs), Werner Faymann (Housing) and Elisabeth Pitterman (Health) will keep their previous responsibilities. They are joined by Rudolf Schicker (Planning and Transport), Andreas Mailath-Pokorny (Culture and Science) and Isabella Kossina (Environment). The first session of the new city assembly is due to take place on 27 April.


And in other news...

  • Social Democrat Heinz Fischer this week criticised a government plan that would allow foreign troops to pass through Austria or stay in the country for a short period of time without a UN or an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mandate. Fischer denounced what he sees as the "anti-neutrality salami tactics" of the government.
  • Andreas Khol, chairman of the ÖVP parliamentary group, riticised the comments of the ÖVP governor of Tyrol, Wendelin Weingartner, last Thursday. Weingartner had recently expressed doubts about the party's policy of "zero [budgetary] deficit."
  • Franz Steindl was elected leader of the ÖVP in Burgenland this week. He replaces Gerhard Jellasitz, who resigned following the party's losses in the regional elections of last December.
  • The leaders of the Liberal Forum (LIF) will meet on Saturday 21 April in Vienna in an attempt to reach agreement on a major reform of the party's structure.
  • Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser was in Malmö, Sweden, this week for a meeting with his EU counterparts. In an interview with the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, ORF, he advocated a reduction in European Central Bank interest rates. He also welcomed the participation of finance ministers from the EU applicant states in the summit.
  • According to the report "The Economic Freedom of the World: 2001 Annual Report" (quoted by the ORF), Austria ranks 15th out of 123 countries when it comes to economic freedom. This represents gain of 10 places over last year. The report says that the strong points of this Alpine republic's economy are the freedom of circulation of economic goods and price stability. The weakest link in the Austrian economy was identified as research and development.

Magali Perrault, 20 April 2001

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