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The BBC's Jon Sopel reports
"No celebration of democracy here"
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The BBC's Angus Roxburgh in Vienna
"There'll be no peace for this new Austrian Government"
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The BBC's Jane Little reports
"The move follows protests led by Israel"
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Friday, 4 February, 2000, 20:14 GMT
US acts over Austrian far-right

Anti-Haider protesters clash with police in Vienna
The United States is temporarily recalling its ambassador from Vienna following the swearing in of a new coalition government that includes the far-right Freedom Party.

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that Ambassador Kathryn Hall would return to Washington for urgent consultations.

The announcement came as Austrian police clashed with anti-Freedom Party demonstrators in a series of running skirmishes on the streets of Vienna.

Madeleine Albright: US concerned by rise of far-right
Speaking at a news conference in Washington, Mrs Albright said: "We have decided to limit our contacts with the new government and we will see whether further actions are necessary to advance our support for democratic values."

Mrs Albright added that the US was deeply concerned by the inclusion of Freedom Party members in the coalition administration.

She said there should be no place in a European government for a political party that "doesn't distance itself clearly from the atrocities of the Nazi era and the politics of hate".

Government sworn in

The US action came hours after Austrian President Thomas Klestil swore in the new government.

I have no intention to wander about in the world and apologise for all kinds of things.

Joerg Haider, Freedom Party
In a brief ceremony, members of the new cabinet - six from the Freedom Party and six from the conservative Austrian People's Party - swore their oaths of office.

Heading the new government as chancellor is Wolfgang Schuessel, the leader of the People's Party.

Wolfgang Schuessel
Wolfgang Schuessel: Sworn in as chancellor
Mr Haider will not himself have a seat in the Austrian cabinet but is certain to play an influential role behind the scenes

Mr Klestil is known to be hostile to the coalition, but he insisted that the new government's parliamentary majority had to be respected.

He also made an appeal for the government to be given a chance and said that it should be measured by its actions.

Austrian President Thomas Klestil: Appeal for the coalition to be given a chance
"The reactions to the formation of this government are so strong that great efforts will have to be made at home and abroad to refute prejudices and unjustified criticism," he said in a television address on Friday night.

"I therefore ask all political forces in our country, all Austrian women and men, as well as our partners in the European Union and in the world to give the new federal government a chance and to judge it on its work."


Several thousand people demonstrated against the new government outside the presidential palace.

Confronted by police in full riot gear, they chanted slogans, blew whistles, and hurled tomatoes and containers of paint in a noisy but generally peaceful protest.

Charismatic far-right figurehead Joerg Haider
Austria's European Union partners are imposing immediate political sanctions in an attempt to isolate the new government.

All 14 members of the EU are halting bilateral contacts with Austria, and will exclude its officials from all unofficial talks and engagements. It will also refuse to support the appointment of any Austrian officials to international posts.

Israel has recalled its ambassador and has announced that Joerg Haider, the party's figurehead, will not be allowed into the country.

"Israel cannot remain silent in the face of the rise of extremist right-wing parties, in particular in those countries which played a role in the events which brought about the eradication of a third of the Jewish people in the Holocaust," a foreign ministry statement said.

Other steps being taken include:

  • Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio expected to cancel state visit to Vienna next month.

  • Belgians being asked to boycott Austrian ski resorts.

  • Israeli tourists expected to cancel holiday bookings.

  • Conference of European Rabbis due to take place in Vienna next month cancelled.
The European Union said its measures to isolate Austria would be implemented as soon as Freedom Party ministers had been sworn in.

Russia also expressed concern on Friday, saying it hoped Austria's new government would not take measures that might destabilise Europe.

Who gets what
People's Party:
Foreign affairs
Freedom Party:
Social affairs
But Mr Haider has told the French Le Figaro newspaper that the furore over his party's rise to power will blow over, once his ministers show their worth.

And in an interview on German television, he said it was an affront to the Austrian public that he had been obliged by President Klestil to sign a declaration accepting Austria's responsibility for its Nazi past.

Mr Haider added: "I have no intention to wander about in the world and apologise for all kinds of things."

The president approved the new coalition on Thursday, but only after refusing to allow two of the Freedom Party's nominated members a place in the cabinet.

One was said to have been rejected for making xenophobic statements; the other for threatening the president with "a bloody head" if the coalition were not approved.

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See also:

04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Haider's men and women
03 Feb 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Haider and the Auschwitz survivor
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Haider: View from the streets
04 Feb 00 |  Media reports
Coalition pledge over nazi past
02 Feb 00 |  Europe
Joerg Haider: Key quotes
03 Oct 99 |  Europe
Profile: Joerg Haider
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