Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Former foreign minister warning of Hofer's Russian course

ČTK |
30 November 2016

Vienna/Prague, Nov 29 (CTK special correspondent) - Norbert Hofer, presidential candidate of the Austrian Free Party (FPO), may try to turn the Austrian policy to the east if he wins the forthcoming presidential election, former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) told CTK on Tuesday.

Many Austrians will not vote for someone, but against someone, Schwarzenberg said.

Greens candidate Alexander Van der Bellen is mainly unacceptable for conservative Catholics in the countryside, while he is largely backed in large towns, said Schwarzenberg, who spent decades in Austria before the 1989 fall of the Communist regime.

"I can imagine very well (Hofer) trying, like our president, to turn the steer to the east," Schwarzenberg said.
Hofer wants to lift the EU anti-Russian sanctions, while Van der Bellen is highly critical of Russia.

Many Austrians are choosing between two evils, Schwarzenberg said.

The balance of power can suddenly change, he added.

"If a refugee rapes a 13-year girl, Hofer will win," Schwarzenberg said.
Schwarzenberg said Hofer could base his campaign on a rebellion against the establishment like the U.S. president-elect Donald Trump did in a very limited way.

The reason is that Hofer has been in politics since the 1990s, he added.

Calling Hofer an "Austrian Trump" is rather wrong. "Their characters are quite different," Schwarzenberg said.
Trump angered lots of people by his vulgarity and foul language, while Hofer's public appearance is unusually "polite and positive," he added.

However, the two politicians' view are similar in some spheres, Schwarzenberg said.

Czech-Austrian relations will not much change in the event of the victory of either candidate, he added.

Schwarzenberg said he did not denounce Hofer's September meeting President Milos Zeman that was criticised by the Austrian media.

Any politician uses all opportunities offered in an election campaign, he added.

Along with Zeman, Hofer also visited Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic.

"Both Serbia and Zeman have a sort of close relationship with Russia and critical relationship with the West and America," Schwarzenberg said, adding that the choice of the politicians by Hofer speaks clearly.

Schwarzenberg said members of his family and friends voted for Van der Bellen.

"I have not come across any of them being in Hofer's camp," he added.

Schwarzenberg said he would neither tip the winner nor say whom of the candidates he would prefer.
Zeman and former president Vaclav Klaus have openly supported Hofer.

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