EU threatens to sever diplomatic ties with Austria over third party
By biconews On 8 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Ben Jones
The Stanford Daily

Editor’s note: Presenting an outside perspective offers members of the bi-college community a chance to look past their own realm of discussion. This week we are including a piece describing the controversy in Austria surrounding the third party of Jorg Haider. It first appeared on the Stanford Daily of Stanford University. It was originally printed on Feb. 4.

(U-WIRE) STANFORD - In an unprecedented move, the membernations of the European Union voted Monday to end all diplomatic ties with Austria should the country allow Jorg Haider, leader of the Freedom Party, to enter a coalition government. Haider, the governor of the southern province of Carinthia, has been condemned in the international arena for his seemingly xenophobic, anti-immigration views.

After the Social Democrats and People’s Party were unable to form a coalition to run Austria’s government following recent elections, Haider has entered into negotiations with the Social Democrats, who were the leading vote-getters in the election, to form a coalition that would control 104 of the 183 seats in the Austrian legislature.

Haider, whose party advocates a tightening of Austrian immigration restrictions and preventing the expansion of the EU, has drawn deserved criticism for his support of certain Nazi labor policies and congratulatory remarks about the SS divisions of Hitler’s army. Israel, which has closely followed Haider’s ascension to power, reiterated an earlier threat to halt all diplomatic relations with Austria should he come to power.

The response of the EU, however, was extraordinarily shocking. Never before has the 15-member organization threatened to censure a member-state in such a fashion. But in an even greater context, this decision raises the question about the ability of multi-national coalitions, or even powerful states, to dictate the internal politics of sovereign nations.

One could easily contrast the swift and decisive EU response with the relative inaction of the European community to the rise of Hitler’s government in Germany, which, similar to Haider’s party, came to power not by force or coup, but through the power of the ballot box.

In the 1930s it took tanks moving into the countries of central Europe to evoke a response from Britain and the continental powers. In light of the failure of the Munich Conference to guarantee “peace in our time,” one cannot help but recognize the intent of the European Community to prevent, at all costs, the rise of another powerful, totalitarian government.

Just as Austria has been put in a difficult position by the threats, the situation is equally problematic for the Union itself. The organization must attempt to enact measures which benefit the European community as a whole, (which this decision will do assuming the destructive effects of a rise of Haider’s party), while at the same time preserving the sovereignty and integrity of its constituent states.

In the current geo-political landscape, many of the hard and fast boundaries which dominated the state-oriented international model have eroded in the face of growing interdependence among nations and such factors as free information exchange through global telecommunications. This change will likely heighten the power of multinational groups to exert influence over states as in the case of the EU and Austria.

For the EU itself, this decision represents one of the most prominent examples of the organization exerting its influence. Primarily thought to be an agency of economic cooperation, this foray into the democratic affairs of a member state could signal an expansion of the coalition’s power and the ability of the constituent states to come together on pressing issues in areas other than economics.

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