The Austrian conservative People's Party Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger criticized Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands-the only European Union (EU) countries to stay away from the fiercely anti-Israel Durban 2 conference in Geneva, as representing "not a sign of strength" for the EU.
He issued his stinging comments to the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF.at) on Monday and defended Austria's decision to participate in the UN anti-racism conference as the "right signal" and argued that "who does not participate cannot have a say."
But in a statement issued by the Austrian chapter of the political organization Stop the Bomb, Madeleine Petrovic, head of the Green party in Lower Austria, and supporter of Stop the Bomb's aim to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, said, "The participation of Ahmadinejad just gives European governments another reason to boycott the UN conference. The Austrian government should not only speak out against the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce to expand the Austrian business with Iran, but should also issue a letter of refusal against the abuse of anti-racism that can be expected at the Durban II conference in Geneva."
Critics in Israel and Austria expected the Austrian government to set a moral and political example because of Austria's complicity with Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. So far, those please have fallen on deaf ears in the Foreign Ministry.
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