Tiroler Tageszeitung, editorial of March 31, 2023. By Alois Vahrner: “What does Austria want to stand for?”.

Innsbruck (OTS) Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyj spoke live yesterday in the Austrian National Council, the penultimate of the 27 parliaments in the EU. Apart from the dispute with the FPÖ, Austria must define its future role.

Apart from Austria, Selenskyj has only had a virtual performance opportunity in Hungary and Bulgaria. The FPÖ (it has had a friendship treaty with Vladimir Putin’s party “United Russia” since 2016) nevertheless demonstratively left the hall yesterday because the appearance contradicted Austrian neutrality because Ukraine was a “war party”. So the country that was attacked by Russia a year ago and has since been razed to the ground in immeasurable human suffering.
Apart from the FPÖ course, which is also questionable here (this did not prevent the ÖVP in Lower Austria from forming a coalition with the Blue Party), Austria must ask itself which future course it actually wants to take. “Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube.” – “Others may wage wars, you, happy Austria, marry.” This famous saying is quoted again and again when the rise of the Habsburgs is described through successful marriage politics. After the Second World War, when Austria, unlike Germany, was not divided into two, it was committed to “permanent neutrality”. And as a neutral country between the blocs, it tried its hand not so unsuccessfully as a bridge builder between East and West or in the era of Bruno Kreisky also in the Middle East.
The world has changed massively since then, Austria has been a member of the EU with all rights and obligations since 1995. The Iron Curtain is gone, but there are plenty of trouble spots, and democratic liberties are under pressure everywhere. And there is a new bloc forming between the democratic West on the one hand and China/Russia on the other. With the Russian attack on Ukraine, war is back in Europe.
What role does neutrality still play, which is considered correct by 70 to 90 percent of the population, depending on the survey? Is it possible to stay out of conflicts as an EU member and is neutrality still a protection? Finland and Sweden have decided to join NATO because of Russian aggression, and even Switzerland (it spends twice as much on the military as Austria with its long-decayed army) wants to move closer to NATO. And you, felix Austria, an island of the blessed, like Pope Paul VI. once meant? Experts see the role as a bridge builder as overestimated, others criticize Austria as a cherry picker. Mozart balls, Lipizzaner, operettas and a neutrality in which hardly any investments are made? Austria has a credibility problem, especially since we have room for improvement when it comes to development aid.

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