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Dreifuss attacks new Austrian government

The interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, has attacked the formation of the new government in Austria, which includes the far-right Freedom Party, as a cynical game played by power-hungry politicians.

This content was published on February 5, 2000 - 12:06

The interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, has attacked the formation of the new government in Austria as a cynical game played by power-hungry politicians. Her comments came one day after the swearing-in of a new Austrian government that includes the far-right Freedom Party.

Dreifuss said in an interview on Swiss-German radio that the cynicism shown by the Austrian leaders damaged the credibility of the world of politics. She said that politicians should not design their programmes simply to obtain power.

On Friday, the Swiss government called on the new coalition in Austria to ensure respect, tolerance and understanding for all people, irrespective of their origin, religion or opinions. The cabinet said it was watching the situation in Vienna closely.

The statement also reiterated Switzerland's rejection of every form of intolerance and suspicion towards foreigners. But the cabinet added that it was confident that Switzerland's traditionally good relations with Austria would continue, despite the inclusion of the Freedom Party in the Austrian coalition.

Before the inauguration of the new government, Switzerland's policy was to call for the respect of the democratic process in Austria. The foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, said earlier this week the government would judge the Freedom Party, led by the controversial Jörg Haider, by its actions.

Only one of the four parties in the Swiss government, the Social Democrats, came out in support of the European Union's threat of sanctions against Austria.

A foreign ministry spokesman refused to be drawn on what Switzerland would do if Austria was isolated by its fellow EU-member states.

From staff and wire reports

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