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The BBC's Jim Fish
"Many are Haider people"
 real 28k

Joerg Haider
"People are trying to provoke a controversial situation"
 real 28k

Monday, 7 February, 2000, 00:27 GMT
Haider threatens treason inquiry

Mr Haider (right) greets a Jewish journalist at a TV debate

Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider has threatened the country's president and the former chancellor with a parliamentary inquiry for alleged "political high treason".

Mr Haider said he could not rule out a probe if proof emerged that President Thomas Klestil and leader of the opposition Social Democrat Party Viktor Klima had orchestrated an international campaign to stop his party from entering power.

A death camp survivor shows her Nazi tattoo at an anti-Haider protest in Paris
The Freedom Party leader formed a coalition government last week with the conservative People's Party despite widespread objections at home and abroad.

Both Mr Klima and Mr Klestil have denied stirring up the outcry against the far right.

Protests against the Freedom Party's inclusion in the coalition have been continuing in Austria and across Europe.

In his first trip abroad since entering the coalition Mr Haider took part in a German television chat show as part of what a BBC correspondent called a charm offensive designed to reject suggestions that he is a Nazi sympathiser. Our correspondent says the visit is being ignored by the German Government.

But in other interviews on Sunday, Mr Haider, who holds no cabinet portfolio, indicated he would play a hands-off role in the government.

However, he sent mixed messages about whether he would try to see through a threat to get Austria to veto further European Union enlargement.

He also criticised the other 14 EU member states for pledging to reduce political ties with Austria because of the new coalition.

The EU has not really imposed any sanctions against Russia over the brutal doings in Chechnya, but tiny Austria, where nothing happened except we had an election, is suddenly the object of sanction discussions.
Joerg Haider
And he predicted that the EU protest would be lifted within weeks.

"The EU has not really imposed any sanctions against Russia over the brutal doings in Chechnya," he said.

"But tiny Austria, where nothing happened except we had an election, is suddenly the object of sanction discussions."

Mr Haider, denied suggestions that he would call the shots in national politics from the province of Carinthia where he is governor.

"I helped form this government," he said.

"I would be a fool if I ruined this historical success, this change brought about by the Freedom Party in Austria, by constantly launching cross-fire from Carinthia."

Mixed messages

In one interview he appeared to say Austria would not block EU enlargement.

"Austria belongs to the 15," he said. "We must co-operate in a trusting manner because unanimity is called for in some cases. We must ensure that the EU is able to act."

Mr Haider: Pledged to co-operate with EU
But in another he added: "The government should decide when a veto is to be introduced and when not. This weapon must not be used thoughtlessly."

Mr Haider also attacked the thousands of Austrians who have taken to the streets to protest against his party's entry into government.

He was also scathing of those who had called on the international community to ostracise Austria.

"It just goes to show that the socialists are bad losers and that they are prepared to carry out a scorched-earth policy at the expense of the country," said Mr Haider.

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See also:
06 Feb 00 |  Europe
Haider protests spread
05 Feb 00 |  Europe
Anti-Nazi protesters march in London
05 Feb 00 |  Europe
Images of Vienna violence
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Austrian tourism braced for boycott
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Haidar: View from the streets
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
US acts over Austrian far-right
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Haider's men and women
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Right-wing leaders puzzled over Haider
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
02 Feb 00 |  Europe
Joerg Haider: Key quotes
03 Oct 99 |  Europe
Profile: Joerg Haider

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