Chase foreigners off if you don’t want them, says Turkish ambassador

The Turkish ambassador in Vienna has risked a serious thrift between Austria and Turkey with statements made in an exceptional interview.Speaking to Austrian newspaper Die Presse, Kadri Ecvet Tezcan claimed Turks in Vienna knew they were not welcome in Austria. He also revealed having been told that the Austrian foreign minister does not welcome ambassadors for meetings – and revealed he would relocate the United Nations (UN) from Vienna were he leader of the international organisation.Asked why immigrants from Croatia seem to do better at school than most people from Turkey, Tezcan said: “Croats are Christians and therefore welcome in the society, while Turks aren’t. They are constantly being pushed to the corners of the society.”A survey by the Austrian Society for European Politics (ÖGfE) showed earlier this week that just 17 per cent of Austrians want Turkey to join the European Union (EU), while 68 per cent of Austrians speak out in favour of Croatia becoming a member .The ambassador however also stressed he registered many “stories of success”. He said: “There are more than 3,500 Turkish businessmen and 110 Turkish doctors in Austria. (…) Why doesn’t the Austrian concentrate more on that?”Tezcan emphasised he has been advising Turks living in Austria to learn German and respect the country’s rules. He explained: “The Turks (in Austria) don’t want anything from you. They aren’t happy. They don’t want to be treated like a virus. (Austrian) Society should help them integrate – and then it would benefit from them.”You don’t have to get more immigrants – you have got them here. But you have to believe in them, and they have to believe in you,” the diplomat added.Referring to the Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) success in last month’s Vienna city parliament ballot, Tezcan said: “Almost 30 per cent support a far-right party in a city which regards itself as the cultural centre of Europe. I would not stay here as head of the UN, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) or the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries).”The Turkish ambassador said: “If you don’t want any foreigners, why don’t you chase them away? There are many countries in the world where immigrants are welcome. You have to learn how to live together with others. What kind of problem does Austria have?”Tezcan claimed: “The Turks in Vienna are helping each other. They don’t feel welcome here. (…) I have been here for a year now. (…) There’s a big difference between Vienna and the rest of Austria. People are more hospitable when I leave Vienna.”The 61-year-old attacked Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger by revealing the minister rejected to meet him. He said: “I was told that the foreign minister doesn’t welcome ambassadors when I asked for a meeting. Can you believe that? I’m the ambassador for 250,000 people in this country. What kind of dialogue are we talking about here?”Tezcan, who was the Turkish ambassador to Poland between 2005 and 2008, also criticised Viennese Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn by saying: “I met the cardinal, who is a wonderful person. He said to me he hasn’t got any problems with Turks. I told him: ‘That’s not enough, you have to do more, you have to write that in your newspaper column. You should say that the Islam is worth as much as Catholicism.”Schönborn has been attacked by some NGOs and politicians for writing a weekly column for the Kronen Zeitung. The bestselling daily has campaigned against foreigners and linked soaring crime  with “organised gangs from Eastern Europe” for years.Asked how to reduce the number of Turkish children in special needs schools due to poor language skills, Tezcan suggested there should be more support for them learning Turkish properly. The ambassador claimed such a measure would help them in learning German.The diplomat also said attending kindergarten should be mandatory for Turkish children aged three or four to improve the integration process. “Parents, teenagers, children – they all should be able to speak German,” he told Die Presse.Tezcan revealed he met FPÖ boss Heinz-Christian Strache to discuss problems of the coexistence of Austrians and Turks. “We agreed to disagree about everything regarding integration,” he said about the conversation with the right-winger. The Turkish ambassador accused Strache of “having no idea how the world develops.”He also criticised the Austrian Social Democrats for failing to stand up against the FP֒s agitation.Tezcan rejected calls to ban headscarves. Politicians of all Austrian parties suggested Muslim women should not be allowed to wear them amid concerns they were enforced by their husbands to do so.”Does wearing headscarves break the law? No. You haven’t got the right to tell anybody what to do regarding this issue. If you are allowed to bath naked, you should be allowed to wear headscarves,” he said.The interview comes shortly after the Vienna city parliament vote campaign which has been dominated by immigration issues. All parties but the FPÖ – which claimed many Muslims are unwilling to integrate – suffered bitter losses in the 10 October ballot.The ruling Social Democrats (SPÖ) admitted mistakes handling immigration policies, but expressed a desire to keep a dialogue going. The party lost its absolute majority in seats and is expected to form a coalition with the Greens.Analysts said the ÖVP did badly too for failing to attract new voter groups with its hardliner campaign which could have tempted many former ÖVP supporters to back the FPÖ – which has always spoken out against “criminal foreigners” – instead.Polls suggest that the FPÖ would have the chance to gain second place on federal level if the SPÖ-ÖVP coalition breaks up early. The next general election is due in three years, but the climate between the coalition partners has worsened dramatically over the past months.