This is not just any populist party that has risen to positions of power in the new Austrian government: they are the true heirs of Nazism, which they are tirelessly trying to rehabilitate.
The FPÖ (the Freedom Party of Austria) must be vigorously opposed not only because it was established by former SS and because of its nostalgia of the Third Reich that, but particularly because of what it is today: a radically racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic and anti-democratic party with a strong pro-fascist dimension.
Indeed, it is the party of neo-Nazis and of the genocide deniers. Almost half of its current parliamentarians belong to “Germanic Fraternities” forbidden to Jews, to homosexuals and to women, reserved for those deemed to belong to a gruesomely fantasized “Aryan race.” Among its leaders’ beliefs:
- A leading regional FPÖ candidate recently called for gassing another million Jews.
- The current Minister of Defense called Holocaust survivors a “national plague.”
- The Minister of the Interior, who will guide the EU’s asylum policy in the second half of the year if nothing is done until then, proposed to “concentrate the refugees” in camps. This is the same person who, last year, was a guest speaker at the congress of the neo-fascist youth group “Identitäre.”
- “Viennese blood. Too much foreignness is good for nobody” is one of their most recent slogans.
It is today’s Europe and democracy that the FPÖ wants to destroy.
Even when compared to the ministers who for the first time entered the government in 2000, an event that had then quickly led European countries to suspend all bilateral cooperation, the current far-right ministers are radicals, who now permissively express their hatred because of 15 years of moral, ethical and political recession in Europe.
FPÖ represents a mortal danger for democracy and Europe. That is why, in Austria as elsewhere on the continent, we are all threatened, and we must all get involved.
The fight we’re leading does not put Austria in opposition to the rest of Europe or to the world. It puts the democrats, whatever their citizenships and their identities, in opposition to the irrevocable enemies of democracy. Permissively allowing their ideologies, which once brought the destruction of Europe, to expand will not help build its future. Vigorously fighting for its basic humanist values will.
That is why we, Austrians and non-Austrians together, attached to the values of democracy and to the European ideal, call to solidarity on civil society and on the political leaders of European countries. The latter must not abandon the Austrian democrats under the pretext that the government platform does not plan for a referendum on leaving the EU.
Abandoning the Austrian democrats, despite the beautiful popular demonstrations they have recently engaged, would be abandoning Europe and its fundamental values. It would be, in the name of short-sighted calculations, letting the most precious thing we have in common since WWII be destroyed.
Concretely, Austrians and non-Austrians together, we call on the leaders of European countries to boycott FPÖ ministers and the Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union, which is set to run from July 1 through Dec. 31.
In practice, this means that far-right Austrian ministers should not be received by any of their European counterparts, who should not attend any meeting or encounter with them.
This also means a boycott by the heads of state and government, as well as by the ministers, of the Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Our common moral and political leap will determine the nature of our shared destiny, in Austria as elsewhere in Europe.
Benjamin Abtan is coordinator of the Elie Wiesel Network of parliamentarians of Europe and president of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, EGAM.
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