Will Austria lift anti-Russian sanctions?

Will Austria lift anti-Russian sanctions?

Austria may start working to mitigate or abolish European sanctions against Russia. Heinz-Christian Strache, chairman of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), who is involved in the formation of the new government, said that his party will work on this issue in case of participation in the government coalition.

"Of course, we want to reduce the tension in Europe and as a neutral Austria we will work in this direction. We want to find a solution to mitigate or remove these unfortunate sanctions," RIA Novosti cited Strache as saying.

Yesterday, the Freedom Party accepted the invitation of the People's Party (OVP) leader Sebastian Kurz to take part in coalition talks.

Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Austria may soften its sanctions against Russia, but it is unlikely that it will be able to influence Brussels' position on this issue. "I think Austria does not have any opportunities to change the general situation with the EU position towards Russia. In Austria, such statements about the easing of sanctions have already sounded repeatedly, while it should be understood that Vienna has never was in the wake of a pro-Russian policy or the lifting of sanctions, so Strache's words are just an internal political game," he stressed.

"If Austria really wants to mitigate sanctions, it will be able to do it without looking at the European Union. Then Vienna will be able to soften the banking sector and start selling certain types of strategic products. Another thing is that that it will not do it without looking at the EU, as the European Union regularly adopts consolidated decisions on sanctions at summits, and Austria has already voted for the expansion and prolongation of the sanctions until January 31, 2018. In this regard, Austria will be under significant pressure if they are try to cancel the already agreed and extended sanctions," Alexander Gusev stressed.

In addition, due to the strengthening of the rights in Austria, the country's position in the European Union has weakened. "The influence of Austria in the EU is minimal, it is in the top ten in economic terms, but it is still far from the top 5 - Germany, Italy, Britain, France and Spain," the director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting concluded.

A senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, also recalled that all issues in the EU are resolved by consensus. "The party in the Austrian ruling coalition is able to put forward such a point of its program, but it 's not the fact that it will become Austria's position. And even if the intention to remove or not extend sanctions against Russia enters the platform of the coalition government and Austria delivers such an issue in the EU, it will still be put to the vote and without 100% support the decision will not be taken," he warned.

Vladimir Olenchenko noted that for the EU countries are now generally characterized by a situation when there are calls inside the state to weaken the sanctions regime, but these ideas have no support at the supranational level. "There are two factors - national, bilateral relations with Russia, and the all-European one, connected with the formation of the common position of the EU. That is, we see a lack of political will on the part of those countries that agree with the inexpediency of anti-Russian sanctions," the senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences concluded.

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