Kurz: Austria to continue dialogue with Russia
Vienna wants to continue dialogue with Russia but believes espionage to be unacceptable, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said following a cabinet meeting.
Austrian Chancellor said that they want to maintain dialogue with Russia. "If espionage activities are taking place on our territory, regardless of what country is involved, we consider it to be unacceptable and will combat it," TASS cited Kurz as saying.
On November 9, the Austrian authorities said they had opened an investigation into a retired colonel, suspected of working for Russian intelligence agencies since the 1990s, providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force, artillery and the migration crisis. If found guilty, the colonel may face two years in prison.
According to the Salzburg prosecution, following a series of questionings, investigators came to the conclusion that the retired colonel was to be charged under two articles of the Austrian Criminal Code, which concern inflicting damage on Austria by working for another country’s intelligence agency and disclosing state secrets, as well as under a military criminal law related to the deliberate disclosure of military secrets.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out he was unpleasantly surprised at Vienna’s failure to ask Moscow to shed some light on those allegations.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, in turn, cautioned against dramatizing the situation and called on everyone to wait for the investigation’s results. In addition, he expressed surprise at the government’s move to inform the public about the suspicions of espionage. The president was also confident that the espionage incident would not seriously harm Austrian-Russian relations in the long run.