Country Listing

Austria Table of Contents




The Vienna International Center is also known as United Nations City because numerous United Nations offices are located there.
Courtesy Embassy of Austria, Washington

Beginning in 1955, the guiding principle of Austrian foreign policy was neutrality. As part of an agreement reached that year with the Four Powers (Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States), Austria passed an amendment to its constitution declaring that it would forever remain neutral. Specifically, Austria pledged that it would never join any military alliances or allow foreign troops to be stationed on its soil. The commitment to neutrality was seen by virtually all political groups as a sensible step to achieve the complete removal of occupying forces from the country.

However, Austria chose to pursue a looser model of neutrality than that followed by other states, such as Switzerland. Austria joined the United Nations (UN) in 1955, shortly after making its neutrality pledge. Austria did not take neutrality to mean that it should occupy a moral middle ground between the democratic countries of the West and the totalitarian states of the East during the Cold War period. In terms of political and social ideology, Austria was firmly within the community of democratic nations.

A second important principle of Austrian foreign policy was internationalism. Austria was active in many international organizations, such as the UN and its subsidiary agencies. The country was a long-time participant in UN peacekeeping operations. An Austrian medical team served in the Congo (present-day Zaire) between 1960 and 1963, and medical teams and soldiers have served continuously in Cyprus since 1964 and at various times in Egypt and Israel since 1968. Vienna was the home of two UN entities, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. During the Cold War period, Austria consistently supported all attempts at fostering détente between the United States and the Soviet Union. Austria's leaders pursued this policy because they realized that heightened tensions between the superpowers would make the maintenance of their country's neutrality more difficult.

Data as of December 1993