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Austria Table of Contents


Foreign Policy During the Kreisky Era

Bruno Kreisky, who had served as foreign minister between 1959 and 1966, laid great emphasis on an active, internationalist foreign policy during his tenure as chancellor (1970-83). Kreisky's vision of foreign policy was based on the notion that Austria, as a neutral country, should seek to mediate conflicts between countries and stake out independent and innovative policies on various issues. He offered Vienna as a site for many series of negotiations on nuclear arms reductions and other international matters.

Among Kreisky's more controversial policies was his decision to grant informal diplomatic recognition to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1980. This was an outgrowth of Kreisky's conviction that Israel was stubbornly refusing to recognize the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people. The fact that Kreisky was Jewish gave him a certain credibility in becoming so involved in trying to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kreisky further surprised the world by receiving Libyan leader Muammar al Qadhafi in Vienna. He also showed his independent approach with his decision that Austria should participate in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, despite the boycott of the games orchestrated by United States president Jimmy Carter in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Austria also did not adhere to the economic boycott of Iran organized by the United States after the seizure of its embassy in Tehran in 1979.

During the 1970s, Austria collaborated extensively with other neutral and nonaligned countries in the UN. Austria developed an independent voting profile, frequently joining with other neutrals such as Sweden to press for action on issues ignored by countries belonging to military alliances. Austria also pursued this kind of diplomacy with the nonaligned countries belonging to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Data as of December 1993