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After a spell in government with the Conservative Party in 2000, the FPÖ was battered by infighting leaving it with just 11.7 percent of the vote and almost bankrupt after the 2006 elections.
But soon after, the party miraculously recovered and, going from being a secular nationalist party in the past, suddenly embraced Russia, Serbia and Orthodox Christianity as the main bulwark against Islamic migration and American liberalism.
The warm reception he received as well as the signing of the contract to build the Austrian strand of South Stream showed that Russia will use economic and political vulnerabilities to try and subvert any common European policy.
This visit was very controversial in Austria, but there are still many people who promote the lifting of sanctions on Russia at the earliest possible opportunity.
In December, the foreign minister ruled out further sanctions, despite the fact that Germany wanted to leave all options on the table to increase pressure on Moscow.
Austria’s reluctant stance on an assertive European policy is purely economic.
But Hungary’s open flirtation with Putin’s authoritarian model and the rise of pro-Russian sentiment amongst Czech and Slovak politicians should serve as a warning that this paradigm has its limits.Moreover, Russia has not passed up the opportunity to meddle in Austrian domestic politics.The most obvious pro-Russian agent of influence is the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ).We know that value goes beyond a single engagement, or a single result.Value is defined by a relationship — one that is born of an intelligent, engaged, highly collaborative process.
Firstly, Austria is a consensus-oriented society where confrontation is usually avoided, even at the price of one’s own interests.