Faymann defends aid for Greece

Freedom Party (FPÖ) chief Heinz-Christian Strache accused the government of “dispossessing” Austrians of their assets and savings by supporting ailing Eurozone member Greece.The right-winger said in the federal parliament in Vienna yesterday (Tues) the coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) must stop offering any further support to the struggling Southern European country.Strache also made clear he would abandon Austria’s participation in the European Union’s (EU) financial stability measures introduced last year to support Greece if he becomes federal chancellor of Austria.Ireland has received billions of Euros in loans and guarantees from other countries which use the Euro as their currency (Eurozone). Portugal is set to be the next EU and Eurozone member state to get support.The FPÖ head pointed out Austrians were in need of the money put aside for Greece, Ireland and Portugal themselves. Strache added the SPÖ-ÖVP administration “is acting like an EU sect.”Strache, who took over at the FPÖ in 2005, suggested Greece should be freed by some of its debts and asked to leave the Eurozone. His appeal comes after reports have it Greece needs significantly more financial aid than initially agreed upon by the country’s leaders, the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).Josef Bucher, head of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), accused SPÖ Chancellor Werner Faymann of doing his best “to become the patron saint of banks and speculants.”Already after the financial support for Greece was agreed upon last year, Bucher said: “European leaders have failed. They have now agreed on helping Greece, but did not present any plans for a new tax on risky financial speculations.”Bucher went on to brand Greece a “money drain.”The introduction of a tax on financial transactions and assets has been on top of Faymann’s agenda for months. Analysts see good chances for the introduction of such a measure across the Eurozone as the German Social Democrats (SPD) signalised support for the appeal.Austrian Green Party MP Werner Kogler said his party was in support of the measures set to back Greece, but also emphasised that banks should be asked to participate.Faymann defended the Austrian part in the programme for Greece and its Eurozone membership by claiming that the country’s economy would suffer if it reintroduced the Schilling as its currency. The chancellor and SPÖ boss stressed that one million jobs in Austria were linked to the nation’s export activities.Faymann dismissed accusations that Austria’s activities in favour of ailing Eurozone members led to a worsening of the country’s own welfare state. He said Austria’s economic power would slump by five per cent if all Eurozone countries reintroduced the national currencies they previously used.Strache hit back at Faymann by referring to Sweden. The FPÖ leader said the Scandinavian state was a good example for successful economic and political decision-making without the Euro.ÖVP MP Günter Stummvoll claimed Strache had no idea what he was saying when asking for a stop of Austria’s participation in Eurozone stability measures. The conservative financial issues spokesman said the value of people’s savings would decrease if Austria – which joined the EU in 1995 and introduced the Euro in 2002 – abandoned the Euro.Bucher argued the financial support for Greece – where corruption is rampant and public sector pensions high in international comparison, according to international newspapers – would not do any good to the country itself but give German and French banks a boost.Bucher said earlier this year that his party was preparing a referendum on the option that Austria stops pouring money into the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).SPÖ and ÖVP previously agreed with EU decision-makers to provide a maximum 2.29 billion Euros for Greece in loans. The Austrian participation in the EFSF could soar up to 12.24 billion Euros, Faymann said yesterday.The FPÖ has the potential to garner up to 30 per cent in the next federal election, according to analysts. Surveys have also shown that more than three in 10 Austrians agree with the right-wing party about currency issues. A Karmasin study found that 31 per cent of citizens said Austria should leave the Eurozone. A majority of 63 per cent rejects such a move, according to the poll published by political magazine profil.