Austrian FM slams boycott

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger of the conservative People's Party on Monday criticized Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands - the only European Union countries to stay away from the Durban II conference in Geneva - as representing "not a sign of strength" for the EU. He issued his stinging comments to the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation and defended Austria's decision to participate in the UN conference as the "right signal," adding that "who does not participate cannot have a say." But in a statement issuped by the Austrian chapter of the Stop the Bomb NGO, Madeleine Petrovic, head of the Green Party in Lower Austria, said, "The participation of [Iranian President Mahmoud] 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 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."