Vienna City Council Member for Finance and Economy Peter Hanke (SPÖ) has criticized the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
Hanke said in an interview with the newspaper “Courier” that Austria “does not do justice to the role of mediator with which it made an international name for itself in the past.” When it comes to measures such as expelling diplomats, Hanke said, Austria should “be very careful”.
Vienna as a center of peace
“For decades, we have developed the function of a bridge to Eastern Europe, which we must use to bring peace,” Hanke said. “Diplomatic relations should not be jeopardized too quickly.” Maintaining neutrality is “essential”. In the current conflict, “Vienna should be more involved as a center of peace”.
Hanke told the ÖVP direction that the federal political turmoil of the past few years was to blame: “Politics at the federal level have been marked by permanent change in recent years.” This ensured that “Austria suffered internationally in its reputation”. Now, in a crisis, Hanke said, “we are thus unable to show strength.”
Austria joined sanctions imposed on several European countries on Thursday, declaring four diplomats persona non grata and must leave Austria by April 12 at the latest. She added that these people had taken actions contrary to the Vienna Convention, referring to intelligence activities.
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