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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 May, 2005, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Nazi row lawmaker refuses to quit
Siegfried Kampl
Siegfried Kampl: "Fundamentally there is no change"
An Austrian legislator has retracted a promise to resign over remarks he made expressing sympathy to the Nazis.

Siegfried Kampl also said he would take up the rotating post of president of the upper house of parliament in July.

He had said he would relinquish his seat amid pressure from all sides after he deplored the "brutal persecution" of Austrian Nazis after World War II.

Last month, he said his father was a member of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party like "more than 99%" of Austrians.

He also referred to Austrian deserters of Nazi Germany's armed forces as "assassins of battle comrades".

'No change'

On Sunday, the 69-year-old politician said he stood by his remarks.

"I might phrase my views a little differently, but fundamentally there is no change," Mr Kampl told ORF public radio.

"I will not give up my mandate. I will remain in the Bundesrat and I will take over the presidency."

He did, however, agree to resign as a member of Joerg Haider's Alliance for Austria's Future, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, saying he did not want to be a burden on the party.

Mr Kampl, who is also the mayor of the southern town of Gurk, said he had decided not to resign because of the "provocative" manner in which he was implored to do so by current Bundesrat president George Pehm, a Social Democrat.

Mr Pehm had said Mr Kampl's resignation was the "only possible outcome of these unacceptable statements".

Walkout threat

Days after the Kampl controversy broke on 19 April, another right-wing member of the Bundesrat, John Gudenus, contended that the existence of Nazi gas chambers "remains to be proven".

He was widely rebuked but has also refused to give up his seat.

The post of president of the Bundesrat rotates between representatives of Austria's provinces. If Mr Kampl remains in his seat, the job will automatically go to him in July.

The opposition Greens and Social Democrats have urged Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel to intervene.

"We cannot tolerate somebody like this as president of the Bundesrat," the leader of the Greens, Alexander Van Der Bellen said, while the Social Democrats said they would walk out of the legislature every time Mr Kampl took his seat.

Franz Morak, the State Secretary for Culture, said: "These statements do not belong in our time."

He added that both Mr Gudenus and Mr Kampl "should suffer the consequences of their actions".




SEE ALSO:
Haider's enduring appeal
08 Mar 04 |  Europe
Timeline: Austria
13 Apr 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Austria
13 Apr 05 |  Country profiles


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