Turkish ambassador to keep post

The Turkish ambassador in Vienna will not be removed from office – despite stressing he would relocate the United Nations (UN) from Vienna were he leader of the international organisation.Turkish newspapers reported today (Fri) that the country’s government had no plans to dismiss Ambassador Kadri Ecvet Tezcan. The 61-year-old took over as Turkish ambassador in Austria just one year ago, but infuriated political leaders with a string of controversial claims made in an interview with daily newspaper Die Presse earlier this week.Tezcan said children from families with a Croatian background were mostly doing better at schools in Austria “because they are welcome in the society for being Christians. Turks aren’t – that’s why they are constantly being pushed to the corners of society.”The diplomat also attacked Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Interior Minister Maria Fekter. Tezcan called on Fekter – who represents the party’s right-wing branch – to “stop interfering” in the integration process. The ambassador said it was no surprise there were just “police solutions” to the issue as long as the current interior ministry was in charge.All five parties represented in the Austrian parliament but the Greens generally criticised Tezcan for his remarks. Alexander Van der Bellen, the Green Party’s foreign affairs spokesman, however praised the ambassador for his “refreshingly undiplomatic approach” and called on political rivals to openly discuss raised issues.Turkish dailies have it that the country’s government had no intentions to reprimand or dismiss Tezcan after the interview made headlines across Europe. Heidemarie Gürer, the Austrian ambassador in Ankara, announced today that the Austrian foreign ministry did not ask its Turkish counterpart to dismiss Tezcan.Austrian ÖVP Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said yesterday that he considered Tezcan’s statements as “insulting”. The foreign minister is, however, understood to be trying to avoid a worsening of the political and economic relationship between his country and Turkey.Around 150 Austrian firms are currently doing business in Turkey, according to Marco Garcia, the Austrian trade commissioner in Istanbul.Garcia said the number of Austrian companies considering to start operating in Turkey was on the rise since the country “offers business-friendly policies, safe legal structures and a booming stock market.”The trade commissioner emphasised Austria was currently the eighth biggest investor in Turkey which started accession talks with European Union (EU) leaders in 2005.Gastronomy company DO&CO, which is currently quoted on the Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG), said only a few days ago it would enter the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) next month.Other major firms doing business in Turkey are oil and gas company OMV, Bank Austria (BA) and electricity provider Verbund.Meanwhile, ÖVP Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Othmar Karas appealed on the Austrian government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the ÖVP once more to set up a integration affairs state secretary.Karas said in an interview with the Kurier newspaper: “Only 10 of the EU’s 27 member states coordinate integration issues in the interior ministry.”The European People’s Party (EPP) vice president also said: “We got problems (handling immigration and integration issues). They will not be solved by suggesting to banish the ambassador.”Karas said political decision-makers must face the problems. “Hostility won’t lead to solutions, but mutual respect does,” he stressed.