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The BBC's Jon Sopel reports
"Normally a time of celebration"
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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, 14:29 GMT
Austrian far-right enters government

President Klestil (right) and Wolfgang Schuessel Wolfgang Schuessel (left) and President Klestil sign the swearing-in documents

President Thomas Klestil of Austria has sworn in a new coalition government that includes the far-right Freedom Party led by Joerg Haider.

In a brief ceremony, members of the new Cabinet - five from the Freedom Party and five 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.

I have no intention to wander about in the world and apologise for all kinds of things.
Joerg Haider
He, like the others, swore to respect the Austrian constitution and its laws, before shaking hands with the sombre-faced president.

Mr Haider will not himself have a seat in the Austrian cabinet but is certain to play an influential role behind the scenes

Anti-Haider protest

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

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

Anti-Haider protesters Anti-Haider protesters made their feelings known
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 Mr Haider 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.

The United States has expressed deep concern, while also dismissing a pledge signed by the coalition partners to uphold democratic values. Washington says it will be keeping a close watch on developments.

Other steps being taken :

  • 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.

Presidential doubts

Mr Klestil also expressed reservations about the Freedom Party taking on cabinet positions, but said he had to uphold the electoral will of the people.

He is to make a televison address later in the day (1900 GMT).

After the general election last October, the Freedom Party had the second largest number of seats in parliament.

Mr Haider's party will provide the ministers for justice, finance and social affairs. It will also get the vice-chancellorship.

But the People's Party will have the foreign ministry and with it, the job of repairing Austria's damaged reputation abroad.

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See also:
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Haider's men and women
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Austria's problem with foreigners
03 Feb 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Haider and the Auschwitz survivor
03 Feb 00 |  Europe
Analysis: EU differences in spotlight
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Haidar: View from the streets
04 Feb 00 |  Media reports
Coalition pledge over nazi past
03 Feb 00 |  Europe
Analysis: Austria's troubled history
03 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Analysis: Israel's hard line against Haider
02 Feb 00 |  Europe
Joerg Haider: Key quotes
03 Oct 99 |  Europe
Profile: Joerg Haider
03 Feb 00 |  Europe
Analysis: EU's forceful warning on Haider

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