Austria’s leader to Europe: ‘Judge us on our actions’

French President Emmanuel Macron greets Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Austria’s leader to Europe: ‘Judge us on our actions’

PARIS: Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has appealed to Europe to give his conservative-far right coalition a chance, during a visit to France whose President Emmanuel Macron reached office by triumphing over the anti-immigration National Front.
Kurz chose Paris for his first official bilateral visit since becoming the world’s youngest leader at 31 in December.
The visit came 18 years after Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party was first included in a government, an event that triggered seven months of diplomatic sanctions by other European countries, led by France.
Nearly two decades later, the atmosphere was very different as 40-year-old Macron, part of a new generation of tech-savvy young leaders, welcomed Kurz for talks on the future of Europe.
Kurz, whose country has the only government in Western Europe to feature the far right, appealed for understanding.
“I’m asking you to give us a chance and to judge us on our program and our actions. And maybe we will be able to convince you in the coming years, with our achievements,” he said.
Kurz insisted that his government was “pro-European” and that he shared Macron’s vision on “numerous questions,” namely security and the fight against terrorism and radicalization.
Macron, who defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the final round of last year’s presidential election, made clear his aversion to rightwing nationalists.
“I deplore the far right everywhere... but if it is present it’s because we failed to respond to the anxieties on which it feeds,” he said.
But he ruled out remonstrating Kurz over his tie-up with the far right, which scooped the key ministries of interior, defense and foreign affairs.
“A European leader should not go about commenting on the elections of his neighbors,” Macron said.
The best response to the nationalist wave sweeping the continent was to have “a protective Europe,” Macron said.
He also voiced understanding for the “very strong sensitivity” around immigration in Austria, which drastically tightened its borders after being swamped by migrants on the move through Europe in 2015.


At least one killed, six wounded in French Christmas market shooting

Updated 17 min 28 sec ago
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At least one killed, six wounded in French Christmas market shooting

STRASBOURG, France: At least one person was killed and six people were wounded in a shooting near a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, police sources said.
“There were gun shots and people running everywhere,” one local shopkeeper told BFM TV. “It lasted about 10 minutes.”
A source at the prosecutor’s office said the motive behind the shooting was not immediately clear and that an investigation was under way to see if it was terrorism-related.
France remains on high alert after a wave of attacks commissioned or inspired by Daesh militants since early 2015, in which about 240 people have been killed.
French Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy tweeted: “Solidarity and support for the people of Strasbourg. Our support too for the security forces. We are united and determined to protect the French people.”