FPÖ remains optimistic despite provisional closing of Energy Chapter
The Czech Republic provisionally closed the energy chapter in negotiation talks with the European Union at a meeting in Brussels on Monday. The agreement came just ten days after Prague and Vienna reached a compromise in their dispute over safety at the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant. But the dispute seems far from over - protest at the agreement from Austria's junior coalition Freedom Party resulted in a memorandum submitted to the EU in which Austria said it reserved the right to re-open the energy chapter whenever it deemed necessary. Dita Asiedu spoke to Peter Sichrovsky, the Freedom Party's General Secretary, about the party's position on Temelin:
"The chapter has been closed but can always be re-opened again. I think this is not such an important discussion, when it can and can't be opened, important is the idea that there should be an agreement for closing the plant in a specific time range before the Czech Republic joins the EU."
The EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen, said he was "disappointed" with the response by some Austrian politicians to the closure of the whole process. Don't you think that the EU is getting rather fed up with Vienna?
"Well, the EU is represented by countries that are very strongly influenced by the atomic energy lobby. But on the other hand, there is a very strong political movement in all countries now and I think we have a common agreement that the whole situation is too dangerous just to go by the lea?? procedures that the chapter is closed or not closed. This is a higher interest of security and also for the Czech people, not only for the Austrians."
This dispute has been going on for months and years and the constant opposition to Temelin could backfire. For example, Johannes Voggenhuber from the Greens says Austria's opposition to Temelin could contribute to Austria being expelled from the European Union...don't you think by threatening a veto you could be losing the little support Austria still has inside the EU?
"Well, we have never been dependent on this support. As you may remember, when our government was formed, there was a hate attack against one lower country within the EU and we still continued our way and what we decided to do and we have a democratically elected government and we have a strong movement in the population we have a support of the anti-Temelin movement of between 60% and 80% in the population. You have to respect this. It is not necessary to satisfy some representatives within the EU we are not here to please other people in the EU who ignored us and disrespected us in the past."
A defiant Peter Sichrovsky, General Secretary of Austria's far-right Freedom Party, speaking there to Radio Prague's Dita Asiedu.