GRAZ – The resignation of the Vice-Chancellor of Austria and the Freedom Party’s leader Heinz-Christian Strache is a good sign for the Western Balkans, due to the fact that its party was not working in the interests of EU enlargement, thinks professor of the University of Graz Florian Bieber.
As he points out for the Radio Free Europe, the resignation of the Vice-Chancellor and the crash of its party leaves his political friends and allies in the Western Balkans without an alternative among European populists and far-right politicians, adding that the government’s crisis in Austria is “pretty-much good sign” for the Balkans.
“It may be encouraging for the region, because, after all, even if they said some pro-Serb statements they do not want enlargement because they do not believe deeply in the idea of EU integration and reforms. In that sense, it is a good sign for the Balkans,” says Bieber.
“Double signals which the Balkans received from Austria in the last two years were harmful to the region because Austria was one of the main supporters of the enlargement and Strache and his politics have impeded the continuation of this position,” Bieber states.
He believes that with Strache’s resignation, the influence of extreme nationalist parties of the region on the Austrian government will decrease.
“This resignation also has an impact on Europe’s far-right wing because it sends the message that they are not uncorrupted like they have presented themselves,” explains Bieber.
As he adds that this does not come as a big surprise, but European elections will show in which way and how this will affect the result of far-right parties in Europe.
In the end, maybe it is a message for political parties of the centre not to see those parties as potential partners, because you cannot count on them, Biber underlines.
Everything now depends on the further investigation which should be run by some Austrian judiciary so the background of this whole affair could be discovered, Bieber concludes.