Brussels 10.10.2021 Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has resigned after pressure triggered by a corruption scandal, to avoid political vacuum has proposed Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg as his replacement.
(Image above: archive).
Kurz and nine other persons were placed under investigation after raids at a number of locations linked to his conservative People’s Party (ÖVP).
The Chancellor denies claims he used government money to ensure positive coverage in a tabloid newspaper.
The allegations brought his coalition government to the brink of collapse after its junior partner, the Greens, said Sebastian Kurz was no longer fit to be chancellor.
The Greens began talks with opposition parties, who were threatening to bring a vote of no confidence against the chancellor next week.
Greens leader and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler welcomed Kurz’s resignation and indicated he would be willing to work with Schallenberg, saying they had a “very constructive” relationship.
“What’s required now is stability. To resolve the impasse I want to step aside to prevent chaos,” Kurz said as he announced his resignation.
He said he would remain leader of his party, and continue to sit in parliament.
“First and foremost, however, I will of course use the opportunity to disprove the allegations against me,” he added.
The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen offered her condolences to the Austrian people, following the Vienna attack by the terrorist group Islamic State. The EU top executive has spoken to Austria Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to express the determination to “relentlessly fight terrorism”, and stand by Austrian people in this tragic circumstances. At least one assailant killed four people and seriously injured more than a dozen of others before being shot dead by police in an attack in Vienna, that officials assessed as radical Islam terrorism.
“I offered my deepest condolences to the Austrian people following the Vienna attack by “Islamic State” terrorists. I condemn this despicable attack in the strongest terms possible”, von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.
The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli reacted with “sadness and horror” on Vienna attack, adding that Across our continent, the Europeans “stand united against violence and hate”.
At least four people were killed and 15 others injured in a series of shootings that started near the Stadttempel synagogue in central Vienna on Monday night, on November 2, the attackers, according to the Interior Minister Karl Nehammer were connected to the ISIS terrorist group.
The shooting began at about 20H00 local time at six different locations by multiple gunmen armed with rifles, according to local authorities. Police shot and killed one of the suspects, whom authorities later described as an Islamic terrorist, who was wearing a fake explosive belt.
The European Union leaders continue the marathon negociation at Summit in Brussels on a coronavirus recovery package, and the seven year budget of the 27 members bloc.
The Leaders left the marathon summit early Monday morning hours and are plnanning to resume talks at 16:00 CET. The summit was originally planned as two-days event, ending on Saturday 19.
EU Summit have focussed on a proposed €1.68 trillion package, a seven-year budget and a coronavirus recovery fund.
Eastern Europe leaders have opposed attaching rule of law conditions, while southern European countries are rejecting demands from the so-called frugal four, now five, countries – Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – for a great sum bound by economic reform requirements.
EU Council President Charles Michel urged leaders to set aside disagreements.
“Are the 27 EU leaders capable of building European unity and trust or, because of a deep rift, will we present ourselves as a weak Europe, undermined by distrust,” he said according to Euronews reports.
Early Monday morning, Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz tweeted that “tough negotiations had ended” but that leaders can be “very happy with today’s result.”
Prime Minister Rutte reacted at the the frustarions among some of the leaders: “I don’t really care” Dutch Prime Minister said during the pause in talks.
“I’m not distracted by background noise” he added. “I’m fighting for Dutch people and a strong Europe.”
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (pictured) announced plans for Austria to become first country in the European Union to start graduate exit process from its lockdown against the coronavirus pandemic, with small shops due to reopen mid-April.
Supported by senior government ministers, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz presented a timetable to restart economy, detailing a series of phased steps to normalise life, especially in urban areas, where many were experiencing confinement in small appartements, while minimising the risk of new contaminations.
With many European countries still battling reduce cases of Covid-19, and hospital systems on the edge of capacity, Austria’s plan causes keen interest: current solution of confinement is not sustainable on long term, however it gave space and time for society and medical system to organised systemic response, and mobilise necessary resources and equipment.
“On behalf of the European Council I would like to congratulate you on your spectacular victory in the recent election. Your official tasking today to form a new government is a reflection of the victory and I wish you every success in this endeavour.
“Your past contributions to our work in the European Council have been much appreciated and I trust that the future Austrian government will continue to play an important and constructive role in the European Union.“
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.
Deputy Prime minister of Italy Luigi di Maio criticises the EU for squandering public money, while using two seats for the European Parliament in Brussels for groups and committees meetings, and in Strasbourg exclusively for the Plenary one week a month, while three weeks the building stays empty.
Till present around 1,5 million citizens singed a petition for Single seat, and the campaigners say that two thirds of MEPs support their demand. The Single Seat campaign is chaired by Anna Maria Corazza Bildt MEP (Moderaterna, Sweden), and 5 Vice-Chairs from the Parliament’s main political groups.
“This Parliament has been voting across political and national boundaries, constantly regularly for a single seat of the European Parliament. We want to be able to decide when and where to meet. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sebastian Kurz showed leadership last year and took a clear public position in favour of one location for the European Parliament” Anna Maria Corazza Bildt said, while debating in Strasbourg with Spanish Prime minister Pedro Sanchez on January 16 in the framework of the “Future of Europe” cycle.
However successive French governments have declined the claim of the campaigners to give up Strasbourg, insisting the city is a symbol of the reunification of Europe after the World War II, and its status as the seat of the European Parliament is enshrined in the EU treaty. “It was not France that unilaterally decided to place the seat in Strasbourg. It is a symbol of the French-German reconciliation on which Europe is built,” insists MEP Anne Sander (EPP, France).
Europeans Parliament in lock down after Christmas market shooting in Strasbourg. Reported one dead and four injured. Details to follow.
AMENDNED: According to press reports there are two dead and 11 ‘hurt’, it is unclear if they are are wounded or they have accidental injures in the cause of the incident. The inhabitants of Strasbourg are advised to stay home.
German media reports two killed and 11 ‘injured’, and the perpetrator ‘at large‘. He has a criminal, non-terrorist record. The prosecutors has opened terrorist probe.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who chairs the European Council rotating Presidency, expressed his sympathy to the victims, and underlined the determination to stand by the European values, condemning the attack.
The President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani expressed his condolences to the victims, and ensured the MEPs will be not intimidated by the attack, and “move on”.
“We will continue to work, and react strengthened by freedom and democracy against terrorist violence”.
AMENDED: European Parliament president Antonio Tajani summoned MEPs on the situation in Strasbourg.
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.