Government cheers Austria policy after EU lifts sanctions

The cabinet has greeted the European Union's decision to lift diplomatic sanctions against Austria as a vindication of Swiss government policy.

This content was published on September 13, 2000 - 15:42

Government spokesman, Achille Casanova, on Wednesday said the cabinet greeted the EU decision "with satisfaction", and as "a positive development for the whole of Europe".

The sanctions were lifted by EU members on Tuesday, after an investigating committee - known as the "three wise men" - concluded that they were likely to exacerbate nationalist feeling in Austria.

They were imposed in February over the inclusion of the far-right Freedom Party in Austria's governing coalition.

Switzerland refused to follow the EU and maintained bilateral relations, saying it would judge the administration by what its does.

Casanova said that policy had now been vindicated. "There weren't just three wise men, but also a wise government," he added.

Political commentators say the Swiss government's decision was motivated by a desire to avoid antagonising public opinion in the run-up to a sensitive vote in May on closer ties with the EU.

They say many Swiss viewed the EU's policy as heavy-handed, and felt the Union had no right to interfere with a democratically elected government.

swissinfo with agencies

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