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Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 11:40 GMT
Head to head: Is Haider a threat?

Austria's far-right Freedom Party, which has caused controversy for its views on Europe and immigration, has entered into power in a coalition government.

Austria's 14 European Union partners have frozen political ties with Vienna as a result.

Freedom Party MP John Gudenus and the Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party of Austria, Alfred Gusenbauer, put the case for and against.

Freedom Party MP John Gudenus:

We will try and we will show that we really can take responsibility for our country as well as other parties have. And in recent times they have always done worse than better.

We are very optimistic about showing what we can do.

I don't see why we must be multi-cultural. You see what kind of difficulties it makes in most countries.

Our country has more foreigners [proportionally] than other countries. They should become more Austrian those who want to stay here - learn German, enter into our culture - but we don't want to have more of them.

In 1991, the then mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac said Arabic and African foreigners were stinky and noisy, and just asked for welfare money. I think a man like him shouldn't blame Austria and my party.

Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party Alfred Gusenbauer:

I think the European Union must be concerned about that development in Austria. If a party with anti-European credentials like the Freedom Party is going to be a member of the government, Europeans have to be concerned.

We have reached a high degree of integration in Europe. We know that, of course, each government can block European progress and if there is the danger that an Austrian government could block European progress because of the integration of an anti-European party there is reason for concern.

He [Joerg Haider] never changed his views, he changes his appearance and his public relations and he changes his opinions according to what he thinks are electoral necessities.

He is not a credible politician.

As soon as he thinks that his participation in the government is not doing well for his chances in future elections, he will change his position from one day to the other. This will be a very volatile coalition and I'm not sure it will keep for four years.

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29 Jan 00 |  Media reports
Europe's media bristle over Haider
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