Alex Constantine - February 1, 2008
" ... it was 'nauseating that the Who's Who of European extreme rightists would meet together at Strache's invitation in the Austrian parliament.' ... "
FPÖ to help form pan-European right-wing umbrella party
FPÖ General Secretary Harald Vilimsky has said that the FPÖ and other right-wing parties, including the Belgian Vlaams Belang, will form a new party to be called "The Patriotic European Party" as an umbrella party for national right-wing parties.
He added that FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache would hold a joint press conference with leaders of right-wing parties in Belgium, Bulgaria and France on Friday afternoon to provide more information about the new party.
Those leaders would include Wolen Siderov, the chairman of the Bulgarian party Ataka, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, Frank Vanhecke, the chairman of the Belgian Vlaams Belang, and Bruno Gollnisch from the recently-dissolved right-wing ITS faction in the European Parliament.
Vilimsky denied that there was any link between establishment of the new party and the 2009 elections for the European Parliament. He added, however, that the new party would run a list in that election if joint lists were allowed.
At the press conference, Strache declared that the new party would be neither rightist nor leftist and that its supporters would fight against being smeared with the label of right-wing extremism.
Strache added that the basis for the new party would be the so-called "Vienna clarification" of November, 2005. It rejected Turkish EU membership and the new EU constitution and called for "the creation of a Europe of free and independent states in the framework of an alliance of sovereign, national states."
In response, BZÖ General Secretary Gerald Grosz charged that Strache was leading the FPÖ into "an extreme-right corner," which left the BZÖ as "the only reasonable alternative to the right of center" in Austria.
Grosz added that it was "nauseating that the Who's Who of European extreme rightists would meet together at Strache's invitation in the Austrian parliament." The BZÖ, Grosz claimed, would clearly distance itself from such people.
The BZÖ general secretary was particularly caustic about the presence of Le Pen and Gollnisch, whom he called "admitted right-wing extremists and fascists."
In conclusion, Grosz said that "the only thing lacking is the presence of the Viking Youth to guard the hall (in parliament) where the meeting is to take place."
Strache was present at a Viking Youth event in Germany some years ago. The group was banned in that country on November 10, 1994 for its extremist right-wing views.
SPÖ Europe spokeswoman Elisabeth Grossman added that the formation of "an anti-European and nationalistically-oriented Europe party is completely absurd and contradictory.
"The project of European integration is based on friendly cooperation among EU member states and is unequivocally opposed to nationalist endeavours"
Greens' MEP Johannes Voggenhuber found something positive in the news. "The game of hide-and-seek in domestic politics has come to an end. The FPÖ has publicly declared what it stands for: the extreme-right, nationalist and anti-European fringe."
Voggenhuber added that he reckoned with the early demise of the new party since "a pan-European party of aggressive nationalists is a contradiction in terms."