Debate about Russians – Schallenberg defends entry permit


Despite massive criticism and corresponding requests from parliamentarians from 20 countries, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) is sticking to the entry permit for Russian parliamentarians for a conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna. He “definitely won’t break the law,” Schallenberg said, according to parliamentary correspondence in the National Council’s main EU committee. International law must be observed, even if it is unpopular.

At the same time, Schallenberg repeated his warning to the Russian delegates to use their stay in Vienna to attend the Academic Ball, which was taking place at the same time. If the delegates attend other events outside the OSCE session, it would be “a flagrant violation of international law”. The foreign minister received support for his position from Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP). It would be a “completely wrong approach” to exclude Russian MPs from the OSCE, he said. It is important to keep in dialogue and let the international organizations do their job, the ÖVP boss said.

‘Austria shows full solidarity with Ukraine’
Regarding the expulsion of four Russian diplomats announced Thursday, Schallenberg said he now expects a similar response from the Russian side. At the same time, he stressed that Austria will continue to show full solidarity with Ukraine in the coming months.

The reason for the session in Parliament was the special EU summit on migration next week. With their majority, turquoise and green ensured that Chancellor Nehammer had a free hand at the summit. The opposition parties had tabled several motions, but failed to find a majority. In terms of content, they ranged from a fair distribution of refugees and uniform asylum procedures in the EU to a widespread rejection of asylum applications in Europe and the legalization of “pushbacks”, which violate fundamental rights. The only common denominator of the SPÖ, FPÖ and NEOS initiatives was the desire for more repatriation agreements with the countries of origin. The FPÖ was unable to introduce a motion to end sanctions against Russia and Austria’s participation in EU financial aid to Ukraine.

Nehammer confirms Schengen veto
In the debate, Nehammer reiterated Austria’s right of veto against the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen system, using the well-known argument that the Schengen system does not work. According to him, Bulgaria does not deny that there are problems. The head of the ÖVP denied that the FPÖ had suggested a connection between Austria’s actions and the current state elections.

On Ukraine, Schallenberg said that relative to its economic power, Austria was “number one” in terms of humanitarian aid for the country. He rejected a “fast track” for Ukraine in terms of joining the EU. There should be no first-class or second-class EU accession candidates and the countries of the Western Balkans should not be put at a disadvantage. Schallenberg also reacted cautiously to demands that the assets of Russian oligarchs be used to rebuild Ukraine. Despite all the emotionality, one should not jettison the rule of law, he said. After all, respecting private property is one of the principles of international law.

The free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur, which will start again after the change of government in Brazil, was also discussed in the debate. In this regard, SPÖ MP Eva Maria Holzleitner recalled the National Council’s clear no to the earlier draft agreement. That still applies, she emphasized.

Source: Krone


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