written on 6/3/2000
Some weeks ago the European political scene was shaken by an issue about
the new government in Austria.
After years of left-wing majority, the right-wing party FPÖ, guided by the charismatic Corinthian leader Jörg Haider, gained power in a coalition with the popular party ÖVP, led by Wolfgang Schussel, the present chancellor.
The rest of Europe had never been very interested in what happened in Austria, but the news of the rise of the right wing in Austria roused an enormous polemic in all the other European States.
Many journalists without scruple, just to create a "case", reported in an equivocal way some affirmations of Jörg Haider about Nazism, describing him as a neo-nazi, a xenophobe, a racist, in short a dangerous person not only for his country but for the whole of Europe. Of course, public opinion believed what it was told by newspapers and television.
The result of this was a kind of modern "witch hunt" : Jörg Haider was ostracized, isolated, criticized by almost all European politicians. Under the pretext that they wanted to "protect" Austria, they made severe diplomatic sanctions against it, not considering at all that this State has always been a respected and civilized country.
The media feasted on the easy comparisons between Haider and another famous Austrian, Adolf Hitler. Journalists don't have any sense of history: not only Haider is far from being a dictator, because he has been voted democratically by the Austrian people, but the actual Austria is very different from the Germany of the '30s!
The worst thing is that the European politicians had no consideration and no respect at all for Dr. Haider, for his party, and above all for all those people who voted for him who just hoped for a better future.
The hypocritical leaders of the European states claimed their "high values" of democracy and liberality, but evidently with their behaviour they showed that they are the only ones who don't even know the meaning of the word "democracy": the Freedom Party has been elected by the Austrians, and so it has the right and the duty, to govern.
Or do they consider the Austrians unable to decide for their own good?
Anyone, right-winger or left-winger, should agree on the fact that it's absurd and totally wrong to prevent a party from governing basing themselves on opinions and not on facts, without even waiting to see what it can really do for its country. And this is what has happened, and is still happening, to Austria.
Jörg Haider, victim of too many prejudices, tried to resist the EU's attacks and to defend his rights, but he couldn't stand the unbearable pressure he was surrounded by, so he was forced to resign.
But not satisfied with all the damage they created to Austria, European leaders didn't care about this, though firstly they pretended to be "worried" right because of some affirmations of Haider (or perhaps this is what they wanted us to believe). Saying that Haider's resignation was only a political maneuvering, they kept on with their sanctions.
Meanwhile we read on the newspapers that in Belgium students are told by the school authorities not to go skiing to Austria, or that in Brussels some taxi drivers refuse to transport Austrian passengers.
Episodes like these need no comment at all: pure racism. And it was exactly this charge that Jörg Haider was accused of!
The sanctions will have no good result at all, they will only divide Austria from the rest of Europe and this isn't good for anyone.
If the results of the European Union are the suppression of each State's political individuality and the exclusion of any which refuses to comply with its dictates, then all the efforts and all the sacrifices we made for it have been completely useless.
Yours truly -- Silvia
© Silvia aus Milano