BERLIN – “In the first eight months of this year, Austrian firms supplied goods
and services worth a total of 189 million euros to the Islamic Republic, more
than, for example, to Israel, Thailand or Ireland,” the Vienna daily Die Presse
Austrian energy giant OMV continues to refuel Iran Air
planes, in contrast to many fuel suppliers across Europe.
top-ranking British, European politicians are quite vocal about new Iran
sanctions, Austria remains silent,” Dr. Diana Gregor, a Vienna-based specialist
who has written and lectured on Austrian-Iran relations, wrote to The Jerusalem
Post by e-mail on Friday.
“In recent years, Austria has strongly
contributed to keeping the Iranian regime from international isolation, and has
not taken any steps toward destroying the economic basis of the dictatorship of
the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards,” Gregor wrote.
Stiassny, from the Israel-based Central Committee for Jews in Austria, told the
Post by phone from Bat Yam on Friday, “Yes, it is obvious what they [the
government in Vienna] should be doing, but they are not doing it. Business is
more important to Austria than its commitment to the Jewish people and Israel.
It is a pity.
“Instead of taking care of the Jews who fled Austria, the
Austrians are doing business with Iran,” he said.
He estimates that
between 1,000 and 2,000 Austrian-born Jews live in Israel today. “Roughly 10,000
Austrian Jews fled to Palestine between 1938 and 1941,” he said. Stiassny
stressed, however, that some came “illegally” and there are no exact
He was born in 1946 and grew up in Vienna. His parents survived
Nazi extermination camps in Poland. He left Austria in 1967 to make
Stiassny travels to Vienna twice a year. “My mother still lives in
Vienna, and my sister,” he said.
When asked about trade with Iran,
Bernhard Salzer, a spokesman for the chamber of commerce in Austria (WKÖ), wrote
the Post by e-mail on Friday that his group “represents the interests of 440,000
Austrian companies in Austria. The WKÖ does not itself have any business
relations with Iran...”
As for sanctions, the WKÖ adheres to “all
international and European resolutions” and “it is our duty to best inform our
member companies about the international rules” so that “international sanctions
like those against Iran can be followed.”
Dr. Wolfram Moritz, who heads
the WKÖ’s Iran trade section, declined to answer questions on the telephone and
referred queries to Salzer.
Asked about what companies are active in
Iran, the nature of their work, trade volume, and whether the WKÖ had concerns
about representing the business interests of companies dealing with Iran’s
government because of its Holocaust denial and its nuclear weapons program,
Salzer did not immediately return Post e-mails and telephone
According to the Die Presse article, the WKÖ is the main contact
organization for advice regarding Austrian exports to Iran.
Dr. Ariel Muzicant, the head of Austria's 7,430-member organized Jewish community, wrote the Post on Thursday by e-mail, "The Europeans have it in their hands as to whether Iran obtains a nuclear bomb or not. There are three measures that could force Iran to end its [nuclear] program.
“Ban flights to Iran and
[provide] no air-space rights for Iranian or other airline companies” dealing
with Iran, he advised.
“The supply of machines, spare parts, tools and
other heavy equipment” to Iran should be stopped, he continued.
Iranian who seeks to fly to Europe should have to apply for a visa, with the
exception of humanitarian cases, Muzicant wrote. “But the Europeans would rather
conduct business and accept a possible catastrophe.”
Vienna-based expert, wrote the Post, “Austria should suspend all business with
companies supplying Iran with refined fuel, or put a moratorium on new deals.
The Austrian government should prevent banks from giving loans, insurances or
grants to foreign companies supplying Iran with energy resources.”
continued, “All foreign assets held by members of the Iranian government should
be frozen. Austria should suspend all (future) guaranteed public subsidies
designated for economic development in Iran (especially those going toward the
energy sector). Austria would have to ensure that insurance companies do not
insure Iranian tankers and liquefied [petroleum gas] containers that supply
Iran, and thereby ‘feed’ the Iranian nuclear program.”
A Post e-mail
query to the Austrian Foreign Ministry was not immediately
Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said earlier this month
that his government has not decided on its policy toward new penalties to punish
Tehran for the development of nuclear weapons.
The Vienna Municipality
provides educational and cultural space to Iran’s embassy for events.
Gassner, a spokeswoman for the city government, wrote the Post
last week that
“event centers are open to all groups, organizations or private persons
independent of their cultural, religious or global background
The “events have to take place in accordance with
conditions outlined by the authorities and legal regulations,” she
Asked if Iran’s policy of Holocaust denial contradicts Vienna’s
educational work, Gassner did not immediately answer.
Austria has an
anti-hate law barring denial of the Shoah.