Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Row with Austria

Tensions between Austria and Turkey are high after Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Friday that Turkey would block the nomination of former Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik to become secretary-general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

According to Austrian officials, President Abdullah Gul promised Austria it would not veto Plassnik's nomination during a recent visit to Vienna. Austrian officials cite that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made the same promise. Turkish officials reject the allegations.

Austrian officials top even Sarkozy and Merkel in their opposition to Turkey's accession to the European Union and, like Sarkozy and Merkel, Plassnik has called for Europe to conclude a strategic partnership with Turkey rather than granting it membership.

Turkey had nominated its own candidate, Ersin Ercin, though Greek Cyprus and Armenia blocked the appointment.

Relations with Vienna have been particularly sore since December when Austrian rightist MP Ewald Stadler lambasted Turkish Ambassador to Austria Evcet Tezcan in a fiery (fascist?) speech in Austria's parliament. Stadler and the Austrian right have led staunch anti-immigration reform efforts in Austria.
For the speech, see here:

I am not suggesting that blocking Plassnik's nomination is payback, but it is understandable why Turkey would not want yet another Islamophobe heading a key European institution.

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