MADRID, 12 Oct. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The new Chancellor of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, on Tuesday stressed his pro-European position, noting that “Europe is the central frame of reference” of the new Government and a “decisive political lever”.
Schallenberg, who was sworn in as chancellor on Monday after the resignation of Sebastian Kurz – often critical of the EU – for his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal, has intervened before Parliament and “extended” his hand to the rest of Austrian formations.
“As a government, our hand is extended,” he said, before indicating his “hope” that “political maneuvers” will come to an end.
The most important national political priority for Schallenberg is the fight against the pandemic, as he explained, and he aims to vaccinate “as many people as possible”. In parallel, he assured that “one of the central pieces” of the new Executive is to approve the tax reform already agreed.
On the other hand, he has called for progress in “the path of modernization” of education and research. In the area of migration, it seeks to “provide generous help in crises”, but “decisively prevent illegal migration.” In this context, he pointed out that immigrants have to learn the language, because “it is the only way in which integration can be successful.”
Schallenberg has also made reference to Kurz and has assured, again, that “of course” he will work closely with him, as “naturally” as with his government partner, Los Verdes. The new chancellor already expressed himself in this line on Monday, also stating that he believes that the accusations against the former chancellor are “incorrect.”
The new Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Linhart, also spoke before Parliament, explaining that “the critical points” of Austria’s foreign policy remain the same despite the change of government.
These “critical points” are Afghanistan, Syria, the nuclear agreement with Iran, Belarus, Burma, Nicaragua and “the horrors of Islamic terrorism” in countries such as Mali or Mozambique, according to the newspaper ‘Der Standaard’.
It has also indicated its inclination to continue working “in close collaboration with the EU” and for Austria to position itself in favor of “Human Rights, fundamental freedoms, against all forms of anti-Semitism, for strong transatlantic cooperation and for a society open and pluralistic “.
For his part, the Austrian Vice Chancellor, Werner Kogler, of the Greens, has defended the government program as “the right thing to do” and has insisted on his intention to continue with the “mandate” of the voters.
In parallel, he thanked the Austrian People’s Party (OVP) for taking decisions “that were not easy” quickly and praised Kurz’s decision to resign, which “also deserves the necessary respect.” Kogler has also asked to let the judiciary “work” and “investigate” independently.
During their shifts, the opposition parties have criticized the new chancellor. The leader of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, has criticized that “she is not aware of her responsibility” and has rejected her words about Kurz’s innocence. “Chancellor by the grace of Kurz”, has ironized.
The head of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), Herbert Kickl, has also condemned that Schallenberg intends to work with Kurz, while the leader of NEOS – La Nueva Austria y Foro Liberal, Beate Meinl-Reisinger, has indicated that he would not allow that the OVP “dragged the country into the abyss.” Similarly, he has demanded that the new beginning in Austrian politics be “differentiated” from the previous ones or else they will “perish”.
THE INVESTIGATION AGAINST KURZ
The investigation against Kurz is related to polls allegedly commissioned by the Austrian Ministry of Finance in which Kurz and the Austrian People’s Party were favored and which appeared in a media group in the country.
Investigators believe that the Finance portfolio diverted money for the polls that, in the prosecutor’s opinion, were “exclusively motivated for the political advancement of the party.” Its publication in the media group was accompanied by an advertising cooperation of more than 1.1 million euros. The media group rejects the accusations.
Kurz is accused of inciting the payment of bribes, while several people in his closest circle are accused of paying bribes, notably his media strategists Johannes Frischmann and Gerald Fleischmann.
As a result of the scandal, the Greens, a minority partner of the Kurz government, asked for his resignation, which finally materialized on Saturday, although Kurz will continue as president of the OVP and spokesman for his parliamentary group, which is why in Austrian media they consider that it is will remain as “shadow chancellor”, although he has denied it.