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Politics Monitor

Austria’s Neutrality: Experts Questioning Its Viability

In an open letter, ninety experts and personalities called for a reorientation of Austrian security policy. They criticize the fact that, a year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the country still remains aloof from military conflicts.

In May last year, 40 experts had already called for a reorientation of the country’s security policy in an open letter to the Austrian government.

They then sent a second letter, since none of their suggestions had been implemented. Othmar Karas, Austrian politician and first vice-president of the European Parliament, member of the Austrian People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP – EPP), is among the 90 signatories.

According to these experts, important questions about the future of Austria, Europe and the international order are neglected. Meanwhile, Sweden and Finland have asked to join NATO, and countries that are wary of Russia, such as Germany and the Czech Republic, are delivering to Ukraine “for several billion dollars. ‘weapons euros'”.

“At the same time, Austria acts as if the world stopped on February 23, 2022,” they say in the letter. “Many Austrians still seem to believe or hope that nothing has really changed for our country, that we can stay out of all military conflicts and protect ourselves in the near future. »

The recent decision to increase military spending by 16 billion euros until 2027 would not solve any of the strategic problems, as the Austrian armed forces would still not be “prepared to seriously defend the homeland and support other states in the world”. ‘EU as promised ”, say the experts. The latter also demand better equipment for the Austrian intelligence services.

Neutrality is Not Discussed

According to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, from the same party as Mr Karas, the debate on neutrality has long been considered closed.

“Austria was neutral, Austria is neutral, Austria will remain neutral,” he said in March 2022 after the start of the war in Ukraine.

Austria’s neutrality is enshrined in the Austrian Constitution and has been part of the country’s identity since World War II, while it has had a rather favorable attitude towards Russia in the past. In April, Mr. Nehammer also visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, a move that was heavily criticized.

Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner, for her part, stressed that Austria had supported all EU sanctions against Moscow since the start of the war.

“It is important to emphasize that while we are militarily neutral according to our Constitution and our legal regulations, we are certainly not politically neutral with regard to Ukraine,” she told EURACTIV during the interview. an exclusive interview.

This article is originally published on euractiv.fr

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