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Putin visits Vienna: Austria as "bridge builder"

After his election as president, his very first official visit to Farin Putin in February 2001 took him to Austria. In 2014, Austria was the first country to take place in Putin after the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula in violation of international law. The reception in the federal capital was controversial at that time. Criticism came from human rights organizations, Ukrainian associations, greens, but also international politicians. "We know that Putin wants to break the European Union," said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. Contacts with Russia are important, but the EU is responsible for it, said the report in Brussels.

The Austrian policy of the then federal president Heinz Fischer argued with Österreich's bridging function. It is important in the current situation "to keep the channels open and to talk to each other," says Fischer.

Although there have been some criticisms this time, the messages are the same. One has to remain in dialogue with Russia, said federal president Alexander Van der Bellen last week in Estonia. The same is emphasized in the Chancellor Chancellor. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz quoted Austrian neutrality and the location of international organizations in Vienna as an argument that Austria, contrary to the majority of EU Member States, decided not to expel Russian diplomats during the Skripal deal.

Assassination attempt on Skripal [1
9659005] The poisoning attack on Russian doubles Sergei Skripal in England, for which Britain blames Moscow, has aggravated the relationship between the EU and Russia seriously. At the same time, since the beginning of Ukraine, the conflicts in 2014 seemed poisoned yet. Later, allegations of Russian involvement in the Western elections and divisions in Europe were announced. The fact that Russia stands next to Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad and battles, although this poison gas is used against its people, is a little appreciated by Western governments.

At the same time, current US policy leads to the EU and Russia in other areas, such as President Donald Trump's decision to impose US penalties or terminate the nuclear agreement with Iran. "In any case, Trump sees that the EU and Russia are increasingly talking about issues other than just Ukraine and joining US policies. He does not drive them directly into Putin's arms, as there are still too many differences in other areas , says Russian experts Stefan Meister, Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SFR). "But Europeans see that they currently have more in common with Russia in trade and energy issues with Russia than with the United States under Trump."

Consequently, Putin has since his re-election got many foreign state guests: German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi or French President Emmanuel Macron in St Petersburg. But also "Austria is important to him at this time," explains Meister, Head of Robert Bosch Center for the German Foreign Affairs Council, to APA. As a point called the expert: "because it is the final decisions for Nord Stream 2 at the moment and he sees in Austria with the current r Austria's support to Russia

] Austria supports the controversial pipeline project to take gas to Europe via the Baltic Sea – past Ukraine-rival Ukraine. His support for Nord Stream 2 was confirmed by Chancellor Kurz during his visit to Moscow in late February. Putin used the visit to present his country as a covenant loyal partner. Russia has proven to be a reliable energy supplier for 50 years, Putin said at a joint press conference. It was the first chancellor's trip to other EU countries.

Russian media celebrated the visit as symbolic. "Sebastian Kurz is just the guest that the Kremlin needed before the presidential election," wrote the liberal Moscow tabloid "Moskovsky Komsomolets". Briefly, "Europeans, which symbolize Putin continues to maintain successful contacts, not only in the East, but also in the West." Short is a proponent of Nord Stream 2 and a "strong opponent" for sanctions against Russia. FPÖ, which has a cooperation agreement with the Kremlin United Russia Party, is open to abolishing sanctions.

The sanctions, which must be extended by EU Member States in the six months, currently apply until July 31st. Since then, Austria has the EU Presidency. But not even Russia believes that the coercive measures are history soon. Moscow expects a suspension "not immediately," said Russia's ambassador Dmitry Ljubinskij in the APA conversation. And he stressed: "We value Austria's responsible position on questions about the international agenda."

East-West Politicians

As East-West West Bridge Builders, Austrian politicians have tried to position themselves since the 1950s. That this is sometimes a balance sheet shows a dialogue between former Foreign Minister Bruno Kreisky and the Kremlin chief Nikita Khrushchev in the new edition of historian Stefan Karner "Austria – Russia. Stations of Common History" are reproduced. Khrushchev complains that Kreisky is "the defender of West Germany". Kreisky replied that he "defended neutrality. I balance." And he said, "The western countries complain that we are prone to the Soviet Union."

Khrushchev met in June 1961 with then US President John F. Kennedy in Vienna together. By that time, the fears of war must be rejected. But Khrushchev did not come to Vienna to negotiate seriously with Kennedy without humiliating him. The military status quo sat in concrete: the Berlin wall was built a little later. In 1979 Vienna again became a place for a summit between the two most powerful men in the world. The meeting between Leonid Brezhnev and Jimmy Carter was more successful. The SALT II nuclear agreement has been signed.

Russian and American media reported weekend preparations for a meeting between Trump and Putin. The place and time were not determined yet. But Chancellor Kurz expressed his interest in such a summit in Austria a few months ago. The chance is unclear. Russia has recently refused a mediation victim of Austria in Syria war

Karner: Austria has been recognized as a bridge builder

Austria has long been a bridge-building between West and Russia, which is sometimes a balance sheet. Even Bruno Kreisky was criticized by the West and the Soviet Union as Secretary of State in 1960 to be too close to the other side.

"The criticisms that Kreisky was exposed to at the time is also exposed to the current federal government. That was what happened to Swedes during the Cold War. Nevertheless, both have been recognized as bridge builders," says historian Stefan Karner. of the visit of Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Vienna to APA. The balance sheet corresponded to "the long policy of neutrality policy" in Austrian foreign policy. "Austria tries to build this without questioning its solidarity in the EU."

The bridging function was customer and customer take Austria because of its neutrality, plus the geographical situation: "west west – Vienna is more east than Prague – in the east, deep to the west, but always the western value system, the western economic system coupled," says Karner, who together with Alexander Chubarjan, Chairman of the Austrian-Russian Historical Commission.

Economic Network between Russia and Austria

Reference by Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl (FPÖ) to Austria's role as the seat of international organizations such as the UN and tradition as a meeting of the Kremlin leader Nikita Khrushchev and former US President John F. Kennedy in 1961 As a motivation for the construction of Vienna in the Skripal store, Karner finds "in Wesen okay". Additionally, the "insignificant" economic network between Russia and Austria, "above all, is strategic. It would be stupid not to consider Russia in the international power game accordingly." Disadvantages, especially in such a fragile environment, require double caution, university professor and founder and long-term leader of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Warfare Research.

As a summit in 1961, only a neutral field in question, Karner reported. "The Soviets proposed Stockholm or Vienna. After Sweden, the Americans would not have left at that time. After Helsinki probably not. "Austria was" acceptable because of its neutral policy for both sides. "" Just the bridge builder. "

" Kennedy was new to the office. Many advised him from the summit: he and the United States could lose face. Khrushchev is still a size too big for the inexperienced young president. "At the time, there was much at stake in global politics:" Khrushchev threatened to unilaterally resolve the Berlin issue, continued to shoot. In addition, Indochina, Laos, Africa and the nuclear upgrade, which had to be dismantled. "

Putin's visit to Vienna

The summit gave no major debris:" Vienna did not make the world better or worse, "says Karner." But you can certainly wonder if Berlin or Cuba could escalate in 1962 if you had not known each other personally. The direct communication that had been agreed in Vienna would soon turn out and prevent bad things. Next year, in Cuba, when the world was facing nuclear warfare. "

Karner expected" much "from Putin's visit to Vienna:" In particular, the economic lifting of Russian restrictions on Austrian goods. The visit will be careful, "he said.

Putin's first state visit in more distant countries took him to Austria in February 2001." Putin met our country on several occasions, privately and professionally, even before he became president, "he said. Karner. "He knows and appreciates our mentality, our culture, has many friends in Austria. Strategically, he can take advantage of our neutral position, in financial projects and foreign policy. "

Special Relationship between Putin and Austria

Karner confirmed the question of Putin having a special relationship with Austria." Like to Germany. Just as I personally experienced him twice in the early 2000s, when he was still a young man, he was a German in the Kremlin. Not only that he speaks very good German, no, he wanted a strong shaft of Moscow – Central Europe, Russia – The EU. Strategically as a counterweight to the United States and China. "

The EU has" repeatedly hit the door in Putin's nose ", says Karner." To turn to China was, in my opinion, not a primary goal for his. Rather thought of as a threat to Brussels. "

Karner described the relations between Austria and Russia as" constructive, backed by trust and mutual respect. "The Russian-Austrian Historical Commission recently had the book" Austria-Russia. Stations of Common History ", co-author of Russian and Austrian writers

Compromise was necessary in the perception of the book, Karner reported." It was about details of translation issues about individual formulations, such as the war issue of the First World War, about the words of the Red Army in Austria, about the Soviet occupation policy between 1945 and 1955. "The combined formulations testified" of high scientific standard of the Conversation culture and the will on both sides to question their own, locked positions. This really differentiates the book among many other things. "

APA / red

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