Austria. On July 1, the country took over the EU presidency from the UK and held the rotating post until the end of the year when it was Germany’s turn in order. The most important task during the presidency period was to thoroughly prepare for the introduction of the European currency euro at the turn of the year.
Another important issue was the enlargement of the EU, which is as pressing as the difficult issue for the Austrians. The first group of candidate countries is Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Poland, and several of these countries share common borders with Austria. Hungary and Slovenia were part of the Austria-Hungary double monarchy, and the Austrians say they want to take their historical responsibility. At the same time, a labor invasion of thousands of people from the neighboring countries is feared. Therefore, Austria wants a buffer period of between five and ten years after the candidate countries become members until free movement is introduced for them. The issue would have been debated at the EU summit in Vienna in December, but there it was overshadowed by controversies between Member States over the timing of the abolition of duty-free trade with, among other things. spirits.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Austria is Vienna. President Thomas Klestil was re-elected by a large majority already in the first round of elections in late April for a term of another six years.
One of the largest medieval treasures in Europe was found during a year in a field outside the city of Freistadt in the province of Upper Austria. The treasure hiding contained a large amount of jewelry and 6,000 silver coins.
In April 2002, Austria initiated the payment of compensation to the thousands of Russians employed by the Nazis as slaves in World War II labor camps. Austria had granted DKK 53 million Euro for the approximately 30,000 victims.
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman described Jörg Haider as a charlatan and a populist pro-fascist after Haider tried to veto the Czech Republic’s entry into the EU. At the same time, Zeman rejected that there should be safety concerns with the Czech nuclear reactor. The statements triggered the worst crisis in relations between the two countries since the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia and shook the fragile government coalition in Austria. Previously, 15% of the Austrian population had signed an FPÖ request to veto the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU and to the closure of the Temelin nuclear power plant.
The government coalition finally collapsed in 2002, and Schüssel made new elections after Deputy Foreign Minister (and woman for FPÖ), Suzanne Riess-Passer, Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser and two other cabinet members left the government after a fierce political dispute with Haider.
In 2003, a new government coalition was formed between ÖVP and FPÖ. Before then, Schüssel had had negotiations with the Social Democrats and the Greens. During the year, the government implemented new austerity measures in the area of asylum. Some experts considered them the most restrictive in Europe.
In the April 2004 presidential election, Social Democrat Heinz Fischer was elected with 52.4% of the vote. His Conservative counterpart, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner got 47.59%. Fischer was the first Social Democratic elected candidate since 1986. Ferrero-Waldner did not become Austria’s first female president and continued in the post of Foreign Minister. On the day before Fischer took office, July 8, then-President Thomas Klestil died. Klestil was struck by two heartbeats, went into a coma and died at the age of 71 in a Vienna hospital.
In April 2005, Haider led the formation of a new extreme right wing party: the Alliance for Austria’s Future. It happened after splitting into his own FPÖ. The party ministers went into the new party.
The country ratified the EU’s new constitution in May. It didn’t matter when the Constitution was voted down in France and the Netherlands that month.
Austria took over the role of EU Presidency after the United Kingdom on 1 January 2006.
The strongly right-wing government was overthrown in September 2006 after seven years in power. Austrian social democracy, together with the conservative power, takes over in a center-right coalition. In the elections, Social Democracy became the country’s largest party, while the People’s Party lost 8% of the vote.