The president of the European People’s Party (EPP) Joseph Daul expressed his gratitude to ousted Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (pictured) for his “excellent” work aimed at implementing reforms agenda. Daul is also “convinced” that Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) will achieve new victories in next elections. (Image above: archive).
The EPP president has every reason to thank chancellor Kurz for his contribution to the European elections. The ÖVP celebrated victory receiving one third of the votes (34,9%). “A landslide victory-the best outcome for the People’s Party in an EU election ever. Thank you very much to the voters for the trust and support for our work!” Kurz said at eve of this downfall.
However the electoral success did not prevent Kurz downfall in non-confidence parliament vote over Ibiza-gate scandal.
As the scandal broke, Kurz sacked Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party (FPO), the leaked video’s leading protagonist. The other FPO ministers walked out and Kurz replaced them with technocrats. However the whirlwind was too strong to keep grip on power: the former government allies – the disgraced FPO turned against Kurz joining Social Democratic party in blaming chancellor for the degradation of the Austrian politics.
In his statement after the downfall Kurz underlined that ensuring stability in the coming month is the most important. He was sheered by his supporters, who believe that he will make a huge leap back into politics in unt
AMENDED: To chants of “Chancellor Kurz” outside party offices, the People’s Party leader pledged that “the changes that we began two years ago will not end today”, the Public radio reports.
Kurz said “in the end the people will decide in September and I’m happy about that.”
He criticized his former coalition partner Freedom Party (FPO) and the opposition Social Democrats, saying from them “we have only heard one thing, that Kurz must go, that’s the only platform of those two parties and I’m afraid to say I must disappoint them both: I’m still here.”
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that it would be preferable to postpone Brexit if Westminster failed to back at the beginning of March the Article 50 deal negotiated with Brussels. However he continues to defend the endorsed by the EU27 agreement, as a ‘good’ deal. (Image: illustration).
“If there is at the beginning of March no support for the deal we have, then I think it would be good to postpone the Brexit,” Austrian leader told reporters upon his arrival to a summit of EU and Arab League leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Theresa May promised to offer Westminster a vote on her Article 50 deal by March 12 in the her last bid to win approval for a plan to ensure orderly departure from the European Union on March 29.
Vienna perceives easing tensions between the European Union and Russia as its priority task for 2019 to ensure long-term peace in Europe in cooperation with Russia, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at press conference, dedicated to the Austrian cabinet’s activities.
“Easing tensions in relations with Russia will be a major foreign policy challenge for us in the European Union, as well as ensuring de-escalation in the Ukrainian conflict because it is only possible to ensure long-term peace on our continent by cooperating with Russia, and not by opposing Russia,” he said in response to a question about Vienna’s priority tasks for 2019.
According to Kurz, adopting EU measures to ensure fair and free global trade will be Austria’s second priority. “The second big foreign policy challenge is that as a small export-oriented country, we need fair and free global trade, so the United States’ doubts in this regard pose a threat to Europe and Austria in particular. This is why we, the European Union, need to try to do everything possible to make sure that we have fair and free global trade in the future,” Kurz added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was an “unpleasant surprise” in absence of any request from Vienna for explanations over the affair of a retired Austrian army colonel who had allegedly spied for Moscow.
“This was an unpleasant surprise to me. It has been a custom from time immemorial for any country that feels some concerns or suspicions over actions by another country to ask for explanations directly in accordance with the rules of international communication. Lately, our Western counterparts have made it a rule not to use traditional methods but rather megaphone diplomacy.They accuse us in public and then demand public explanations over an issue we know nothing about,” Lavrov underlined, according to TASS News Agency.
“It is essential to follow the rules that have been shaped in the process of international communication. We have invited Austria’s ambassador to the Foreign Ministry. We will draw his attention to what methods should be used, if they have any questions for Russia,” Lavrov added.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at press conference that the 70-year-old army official, now retired, is suspected to have begun working with Russian intelligence in the 1990s and carried on until 2018, for three decades.
The public prosecutor’s office in Salzburg province confirmed the colonel is under investigation for the crime of revealing state secrets.
“We regret the decision the Austrian government has taken. We continue to believe that migration is a global challenge where only global solutions and global responsibility-sharing will bring results” a Commission spokesperson said at press-briefing in Berlaymont, while commenting on Austria’s abstention from UN migration Global Compact signature.
Previously the Austrian government said it will not sign a global pact to promote safe and orderly migration.
It cited concerns of national sovereignty while joining neighboring Hungary refusing the concept of migration as a “human right”
“We have decided that we will not join the pact,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said to Austrian public broadcaster ÖRF. . The step is one of the measures of coalition government in harnessing the illegal immigration, keeping electoral promise made by both conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and Freedom Party (FPÖ) sharing responsibilities in the government.
Austria will not send an envoy to the pact’s signing in December in Morocco, mainstream media reported.
“We will, therefore, abstain in the vote at the UN General Assembly in the year 2019,” Kurz added.
So far only the European Parliament leader of ALDE group Guy Verhofstadt gave openly negative assessment of the Austrian government’s decision, pointing at alliance between Chancellor and Hungary‘s Prime minister Victor Orban, which ‘undermines common work” to find a solution for illegal migration, wrote MEP in his micro blog.
Home affairs ministers discussed a Commission proposal on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG). They expressed their general wish to strengthen the mandate of the EBCG, in particular on returns and cooperation with third countries. They also shared their views on the size, composition, tasks and powers of the EBCG standing corps, as well as on the timeframe needed to fully establish the corps.
On the basis of this discussion, work will continue at technical level.
There was a general agreement at the meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg that the supporting role of Frontex (pictured), including on returns and cooperation with third countries, needs to be further strengthened. Today we have made good progress on our way to get there by discussing a number of practical aspects, in particular the future mandate of Frontex, member states’ responsibility and the resources of the agency.
“There was a general agreement at the meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg that the supporting role of Frontex, including on returns and cooperation with third countries, needs to be further strengthened. Today we have made good progress on our way to get there by discussing a number of practical aspects, in particular the future mandate of Frontex, member states’ responsibility and the resources of the agency” Herbert Kickl, Minister for Interior of Austria.
Ministers discussed a Commission proposal reforming the return directive. They focused, in particular, on one of the new elements introduced by the proposal: the border procedure for returns, including its links with the asylum border procedure.
On the basis of political guidance provided by ministers, work will continue at technical level.
IMAGE above Marina Militare: Frontex vessel transporting illegal migrants to Italy
Salzburg – After the Salzburg summit, the EU intends to deepen its migration cooperation with Egypt and other African countries. President of the European Council Donald Tusk said there was agreement to hold a summit with the Arab League in Egypt in February. On Thursday, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) described Egypt as exemplary in the fight against illegal migration and smuggling.
Kurz added that it was also the EU’s wish to have a dialogue with Egypt on economic development. Tusk also said that – in the end – the intention was to have “a broader partnership”. He planned to advance those ideas as early as this Sunday at a meeting with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in New York.
According to Sebastian Kurz, Egypt was not in favour of refugee centres. The country was, however, “very efficient in its fight against illegal migration”. In the past two years, no more refugee ships from Egypt had reached Europe. The Federal Chancellor also regarded the “disembarkation platforms” for migrants, decided by the EU last June and rejected by Egypt, as not necessary. The decisive point in this issue was to make sure that as few people as possible set out illegally from Northern Africa to Europe.
Sebastian Kurz continued by saying that nowadays hardly any rescue operations took place in the EU coastal area, with the operations happening close to the African coast. The legal obligation to bring people to Europe only arose once those people entered European coastal waters. He supported Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, in his criticism of the current practice of rescuing refugees. “Nobody can say that this policy has saved lives”, Chancellor Kurz declared. “A new system is needed”, which could be initiated by strong partners in Africa. Three years ago one would have been denounced as right-wing or a right-wing radical for uttering such ideas, said Sebastian Kurz.