The anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPOe) has six cabinet members — including the heads of the interior, foreign and defence ministries — in Austria's new conservative coalition government after October elections that saw voters move to the right.
“Do not turn a blind eye: The heirs of Nazism have come into a position of power in the new Austrian government,” said the open letter, published on Thursday on French newspaper Le Monde's website.
Led by European Grassroots Antiracist Movement president Benjamin Abtan, the statement was signed by international figures including former French and Spanish foreign ministers.
FPOe secretary-general Harald Vilimsky said in a statement Friday that the “so-called” boycott came from “retired leftist politicians trying to get publicity”.
“No serious current politician will attach importance to these voices from the political past,” said Vilimsky. The letter was “the last-ditch attempt of the united left to do harm to the new Austrian government”, he added.
Vilimsky said FPOe ministers, who were sworn in mid-December were “honourable, competent and beyond reproach”.
Signatories of the letter include former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, former Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, “Nazi-hunters” Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former East Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta, as well former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell.