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BBC's Katya Adler in Vienna
"Joerg Haider says he will remain a provincial governor in southern Austria"
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Wednesday, 26 January, 2000, 16:13 GMT
Haider's rise 'highly disturbing'

Haider Joerg Haider: Moving ever closer to government

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has called the rise of the far-right Austrian politican Joerg Haider "highly disturbing" for every Jew in the world.

Mr Barak, in Stockholm for a conference on the Nazi Holocaust, said Israel would reassess its relations with Austria if Mr Haider's Freedom Party came to power.

Mr Haider said talks between the Freedom Party and the conservative People's Party on forming a coalition government had got off to a "good start".

Barak: "Disturbing for all Jews"
Negotiations began on Tuesday evening after acting Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima abandoned attempts to form a minority government.

Israel's Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres earlier compared Mr Haider's rise with that of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. "[Hitler] was from Austria and any man who raises so many doubts must also raise the alarm everywhere," said Mr Peres, a former Israeli prime minister.

International concern

The prospect of the Freedom Party entering government has alarmed many of Austria's foreign partners, not least because Mr Haider has in the past expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler's employment policies.

The party also fought the election on an anti-immigration platform that promised to rid Austria of foreign influence.

Speaking after initial talks with conservative leader Wolfgang Scheussel, Mr Haider said: "We have made a good start. We both seriously intend to produce something good for Austria."

The two party leaders have given themselves up to 10 days to form a new government. Together, the parties won 104 seats in the 183-seat parliament.

Coalition conditions

Mr Scheussel decided to enter talks with the Freedom Party to end the country's four-month power vacuum after his talks with Mr Klima collapsed last Friday.

Haider and Schuessel Joerg Haider, left, shakes hands with Wolfgang Schuessel

But he said that any coalition pact with the anti-immigration party must contain a clear commitment to European integration and respect of human rights.

Mr Haider is reported to have said that he would not seek the post of chancellor - a job which Mr Schuessel is thought to have his eye on.

Mr Klima said talks with other party leaders had shown there was no prospect of his Social Democrats forming a minority government.

Austria has been run by a caretaker administration since an inconclusive election in October in which the Freedom Party surged into second place.

Correspondents say the coalition talks between the Freedom and People's parties will be far from straightforward - the two are not ideological bedfellows, and previous alliances on the provincial level have ended in bitterness.

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See also:
03 Oct 99 |  Europe
Profile: Joerg Haider
27 Dec 99 |  World
Old memories and new fears in Europe
21 Jan 00 |  Europe
Austrian coalition talks collapse
07 Oct 99 |  Europe
Regrets of Austria's far-right leader
04 Oct 99 |  Europe
Austria swings to the right
04 Oct 99 |  Europe
Analysis: Austria's dramatic change

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