Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R).
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Austria’s Foreign Ministry condemned Norbert Darabos, the country’s defense
minister, on Monday for his sharp and undiplomatic criticism of Israel and
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Alexander Schallenberg, spokesman for
Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger from the conservative People’s
Party, told the daily Die Presse that Darabos’s “statements in no way express
the position of the Foreign Ministry or the federal
Schallenberg added that the defense minister’s position is
not compatible with the level of bilateral ties between Austria and
Darabos, of the Social Democratic Party, called Liberman
“unbearable” in an interview published Saturday in Die Presse
and downplayed the
Iranian threat. He accused Israel of using that threat – and the Palestinian
issue – to divert attention from domestic woes.
came a day after Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met in Jerusalem with
visiting Austrian Foreign Ministry secretary-general Johannes Kyrle for a
meeting that was scheduled long before Darabos’s comments.
according to diplomatic officials, told his guest that Darabos’s remarks were
“unacceptable,” and that Israel expected Vienna to express that they did not
reflect the opinion of the Austrian government.
The officials said the
incident “created a degree of discomfort” during the meeting.
who has triggered controversy over the years for his foreign policy positions,
is currently at the NATO summit in Chicago.
Born in Vienna, Darabos is
part of the ethnic Croatian minority from the Austrian state of Burgenland. He
has served as defense minister since 2007.
The year he was appointed to
the position, Darabos elicited sharp criticism from Czech Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg because he opposed the US plan to station missile-defense shields
in Poland and the Czech Republic. His apparent inexperience in the European
security field, coupled with his opposition to the rocket shields, also prompted
reproach from former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel.
expressed disbelief that a defense minister would hold such a pacifistic
position. Schüssel, meanwhile, termed Darabos “a real disappointment as defense
minister” in a conversation with former US ambassador to Austria Susan McCaw,
according to documents released by WikiLeaks.
The WikiLeaks cables also
revealed that Austrian military officials complained about the defense minister
in connection with contact with US officials. According to the cables, Darabos
was labelled as “incapable” due to his unwillingness to increase the military