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UKRAINE

Majority of Austrians reject joining NATO

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not led to a surge in demand for Austria to join NATO, with one in four rejecting the idea.

People attend a demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Vienna on March 5, 2022. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
People attend a demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Vienna on March 5, 2022. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

While the invasion appears to be pushing both Finland and Sweden towards NATO membership, the Austrian public is lukewarm on the idea. 

People in Austria remain opposed to NATO membership according to a survey for Austria’s APA press agency.

 Just 14 percent of Austrians are in favour of joining NATO, while 75 percent reject the idea. 

The majority of Austrians are also sceptical when it comes to Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, with 38 percent in favour, but 46 percent against. The rest are still undecided. 

When asked if neutrality still protects Austria today, 52 percent answered yes. But at least 40 percent are not of the opinion that neutrality protects Austria from military threats. 

Around 83 percent of Austrians would like closer coordination among the EU member states on security and defence policy.

EXPLAINED: The history behind Austria’s neutrality

Why isn’t Austria in NATO?

Austria’s non-membership comes from its long-standing neutrality.

In 1955, when the last foreign troops left Austria a decade after the end of the Second World War, the parliament adopted the constitutional law on the Neutrality of Austria, committing the country to permanent neutral status.

The law cemented certain provisions from the Austria State Treaty signed by the government and representatives of the allied forces, which paved the way for the foreign armies to leave the country. 

The Treaty, in turn, was largely based on the Moscow Memorandum signed between Austria and the Soviet Union in 1955. Moscow had set Austria’s perpetual neutrality as a condition of the agreement.

As per the Treaty, Austria can’t join a military alliance, allow the establishment of foreign military bases within its borders or participate in a war.  

In other words, as a neutral country, Austria is not allowed to join NATO, which defines itself as a political and military alliance

More information about Austria’s position on NATO can be seen at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: Why isn’t Austria in NATO?

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ENERGY

Russia suspends gas to Italy after ‘problem’ in Austria

Russia's Gazprom has suspended gas deliveries to Italy's Eni, blaming a transport problem in Austria, the Italian energy giant said on Saturday.

Russia suspends gas to Italy after 'problem' in Austria

“Gazprom told us that it was not able to confirm the delivery of the volumes demanded for today, citing the impossibility of gas transport through Austria,” Eni said in a statement.

As a result, “Russian gas flows to Eni via the Tarvisio entry point will be naught”, it said.

In a statement published on Telegram, Gazprom said the problem was due to regulatory changes in Austria that took place at the end of September and that it was working with Italian customers to resolve the issue.

According to Gazprom, the Austrian gas grid operator had refused to confirm the transport nominations.

In Austria, regulatory authority E-Control said the new rules, which entered into force on Saturday, had been “known to all market actors for months”.

It said it expected “all to conform and take the necessary measures to fulfil their obligations”.

The problems were related to “contractual details” linked to the transit of gas towards Italy, it said on Twitter, adding in response to a tweeted question that this currently had “no effect” on users in Austria.

Most of Russian gas delivered to Italy passes via Ukraine through the Trans Austria Gas Pipeline (TAG), to Tarvisio in northern Italy on the border with Austria.

Before the war in Ukraine, Italy imported 95 percent of the gas it consumes — about 45 percent of which came from Russia.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi has signed new deals with other gas producers to reduce Italy’s reliance on Russia, lowered to 25 percent as of June, while accelerating a shift towards renewable energies.

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