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AFP: Austrian far-right get interior, defence, foreign ministries

AFP: Austrian far-right get interior, defence, foreign ministries

16 December 2017 | 18:13 | FOCUS News Agency
Vienna. Austria's far-right has secured the interior, defence and foreign ministries in the new coalition government with the conservatives, Freedom Party (FPOe) head and future vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said Saturday, AFP reported.
Future chancellor Sebastian Kurz's People's Party (OeVP) party will have the finance, economy and justice ministries, Kurz said. "The president was clear that he wanted the justice and interior ministries to be held by different parties," Kurz said.
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AFP: New Austrian government rules out referendum on EU membership

AFP: New Austrian government rules out referendum on EU membership

16 December 2017 | 18:05 | FOCUS News Agency
Vienna. Austria's new coalition government will not hold a referendum on the country's membership of the European Union, incoming vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the eurosceptic far-right Freedom Party said Saturday, AFP reported.
"We stand by the EU," Strache told reporters as he and future chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the conservative People's Party (OeVP) unveiled their joint programme. "But that doesn't mean that we cannot be critical of the EU."
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The Guardian: Austria shifts to the right as new coalition deal is struck

The Guardian: Austria shifts to the right as new coalition deal is struck

16 December 2017 | 11:02 | FOCUS News Agency
Vienna. Austrian conservative party leader Sebastian Kurz reached a coalition deal with the anti-immigration Freedom party (FPO) on Friday, paving the way for Austria to become the only western European country with a far-right party in government, The Guardian writes.
The agreement, two months after a parliamentary election dominated by Europe’s migration crisis, ends more than a decade in opposition for the FPO, which last entered government in 2000 with the People’s party (OVP) that Kurz now leads.
Kurz’s party won the 15 October election with a hard line on immigration that often overlapped with the Freedom party’s. The FPO came third with 26% of the vote. “We can inform you that there is a turquoise-blue agreement,” Kurz said in a joint statement to reporters with FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache, referring to the two parties by their colours.
Strache and Kurz said the details of their agreement would be presented to the public on Saturday, after a meeting with President Alexander Van der Bellen and discussions with their parties’ leadership structures.
Party officials had said a news conference with Kurz and Strache would take place at 6pm local time, but as the talks in a Vienna palace dragged on, the timing slipped. The two men emerged more than three hours later.
“We want to reduce the burden on taxpayers ... and above all we want to ensure greater security in our country, including through the fight against illegal immigration,” Kurz said.
Anti-establishment parties have made large electoral gains in Europe in recent years, capitalising on voter dissatisfaction with mainstream parties’ handling of the economy, security and immigration. Most, including Front National leader Marine Le Pen, who made it to the French presidential runoff this year, have fallen short of entering government, but the FPO is expected to hold key posts.
A person familiar with the talks said the far-right party was poised to secure the interior, foreign and defence ministries.
When the FPO last entered government in 2000, other EU countries imposed short-lived sanctions on Austria in protest. Given the changed political landscape in Europe since then, the reaction is likely to be more muted.
Kurz has, however, sought to head off potential criticism by offering assurances that his government will be pro-European. He plans to shift some EU departments from the foreign ministry to his office, and has secured a guarantee that there will be no Brexit-style referendum on leaving the bloc, a source said.
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