The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/h/haider.joerg/press/AP.000206



Sunday February 6 1:12 PM ET

Haider OKs Holocaust Compensation
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/ap/20000206/wl/austria_government_91.html
By ROLAND PRINZ Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Right-wing populist Joerg Haider said Sunday the new
Austrian government in which his party shares power will take appropriate
measures to compensate Holocaust victims.

In a televised interview, Haider also promised to moderate his tough talk
and refrain from meddling in the coalition Cabinet. He will not hold a
Cabinet post.

Haider's comments came two days after the new government - made up of his
far-right Freedom Party and the center-right Austrian People's Party - was
sworn in by a stone-faced President Thomas Klestil. The coalition came
together despite a wave of protests and moves by the European Union and
other nations to isolate Austria diplomatically.

Haider's remarks Sunday were relatively conciliatory compared to the verbal
salvos he has fired recently against foreign leaders.

He told his interviewers that the previous government led by Austria's
Social Democrats had not really dealt with the Nazi past, including issues
like the compensation of forced laborers. He said the new government would
seek to redress their grievances and those of Holocaust victims.

``Where we have inflicted great injustice on our Jewish fellow citizens or
wiped out their families, we must take pertinent measures,'' he said.

Haider won international notoriety for statements praising Adolf Hitler's
``orderly employment'' policies and lauding veterans of the Waffen SS as
``decent people of good character'' - comments for which he has since
apologized. The rise to power of his party has polarized a society with dark
memories of defeats in two world wars.

Referring to his past vitriolic attacks on other Austrian leaders, Haider
said his party would refrain from ``oppositional reflexes and unnecessary
sharpness ... and prove that, factually, we can reason very well.''

Elsewhere Sunday, Israeli Interior Minister Natan Sharansky announced that
Haider is banned from entering Israel.

The ban is the latest formal Israeli protest against the Freedom Party's
inclusion in government. Israel recalled its ambassador from Vienna as soon
as the Austrian coalition was approved.

``It is a very important symbolic act to know that he is not desired in our
country. We hope that other countries follow our example,'' Sharansky said.

He said Haider has expressed an interest in visiting Israel, and that his
party tried unsuccessfully to hire a local public relations firm to spruce
up his image there.

The Freedom Party's inclusion in government has drawn public protests both
inside and outside Austria. On Sunday, about 300 demonstrators gathered
outside the Austrian embassy in Paris, shouting ``Haider, fascist,
collaborator.'' And on Saturday night, anti-Haider demonstrators scuffled
with police in downtown Vienna for a second night, despite appeals for calm
from Klestil.


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