Austrian embassy in Paris ‘a pigsty’

People’s Party (ÖVP) Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich has labelled the Austrian embassy in Paris a “pigsty”, according to reports.The federal minister was due to catch a connection flight in the French capital yesterday (Tues) to attend the United Nations’ (UN) 2010 Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.The departure of the Air France jet the minister and his delegation were on was, however, delayed due to the wintery weather conditions in Vienna. Berlakovich subsequently missed his connection flight in Paris. He was forced to take a plane taking off at the city’s Charles de Gaulle Airport for New York City in the United States later the same day.Berlakovich told Austrian media he asked Birgit Hell, responsible for agricultural issues at the Austrian embassy in Paris, to ensure the Air France flight would wait for him. Reports have it that Hell failed to turn up at the airport.Viennese newspaper Die Presse claimed today Berlakovich got a “screaming tantrum” after realising he would have to wait several hours. Its report also says the minister decided to abandon the position of agricultural affairs attaché as a consequence.”The Austrian embassy in Paris is a pigsty. I won’t fly with Air France ever again!” the environment minister is quoted as saying by the daily.Die Presse also reports Berlakovich vowed to “help” ÖVP Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger cutting the budgets of Austrian embassies in the world. Spindelegger recently said he planned to shut the embassy in Zimbabwean capital Harare and in Bogota, Colombia, as his ministry was ordered to spend less during the coming years.Berlakovich, who took office in 2008, told Austrian newspaper Österreich: “It’s not as if my journey to Mexico was a leisure trip. Subjects crucial to our future will be discussed there (at the Climate Change Conference).”He added: “I don’t want to think of what kind of problems ‘regular’ travellers are confronted with if our diplomats help ministers so little. There must be consequences.”Die Presse claims the minister missed his connection flight by just a few minutes. The newspaper reports members of his delegation “had eye contact with the pilot” and “waved the plane goodbye” from the airport’s departure gate as it reversed to get into starting position.The newspaper added Berlakovich planned to file an official complaint to Air France and copy the French embassy in Austrian capital Vienna in.It is the first time Berlakovich made headlines with controversial statements. The minister – tipped to have good chances replacing Franz Steindl as head of the ÖVP’s Burgenland branch – has so far rather been confronted with criticism regarding Austria’s poor carbon emissions statistics.Figures presented by the European Commission (EC) in October showed that every Austrian was responsible for 10.4 tons of greenhouse gas emissions on average in 2008, up from 10.2 tons in 1990.The EC pointed out Austria was one of just seven European Union (EU) member states whose per capita emissions rate increased between 1990 and 2008.The 2008 result means Austria – which has claimed the status of an environmentally-friendly country for many years – dropped four places within the EU-27 to rank along with Poland in 14th place. Meanwhile, the EU per capita average has declined from 11.8 to 9.9 tons.