Austria summons Turkey envoy over integration remarks

* Foreign minister complains to Turkish counterpart

* Envoy criticises Austrian parties, ministry and policy

* Austria says will keep good diplomatic ties with Turkey

By Sylvia Westall

VIENNA, Nov 10 (BestGrowthStock) – Austria protested to Turkey on
Wednesday after its ambassador suggested Turks living in Austria
were treated “like a virus” and denied the chance to integrate.

In unusually blunt remarks by a career diplomat, Kadri Ecvet
Tezcan also told the daily Die Presse that Austrian parties were
not doing enough to counter the far-right which has gained
electoral support on an anti-Muslim platform.

Austria’s Foreign Ministry summoned Tezcan over the
interview and Minister Michael Spindelegger telephoned his
Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu to complain.

“He crossed many red lines. His remarks were unacceptable,”
spokesman Alexander Schallenberg said.

Tezcan said Austrians were not interested in other cultures
except when they went on holiday. Turkish people form the
biggest Muslim community in Austria.

“Turkish people are happy, they don’t want anything from
you. They just don’t want to be handled like a virus. Society
should integrate them and profit from them,” he said.

Problems with integration of Muslim minorities have become a
subject of debate in several west European countries, especially
Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain. Austria is among
EU countries sceptical about the prospect of Turkey joining the
27-nation bloc. [ID:nLDE6A82LX]

At the start of Wednesday’s article, Die Presse quoted
Tezcan as saying: “Do you want me to respond in this interview
like a diplomat, which will be boring? Or should I answer as
someone who has lived in Vienna for a year and has lots of
contact with the 250,000 Turkish people here?”

INTERIOR MINISTER IN “WRONG PARTY”

Schallenberg said that Tezcan could not argue that his
comments were made in a personal capacity because there was “no
such distinction” for a diplomat.

He also said that Tezcan did not represent 250,000 Turkish
people because half of them have Austrian citizenship.

In the interview, Tezcan said it was “incredible” that the
Austrian Interior Ministry was responsible for integration as a
whole and not just visas and security.

“The Interior Ministry should stop intervening in the
integration process,” he said, because this meant all
integration problems were handled by the police.
Tezcan also criticised Interior Minister Maria Fekter, a
conservative, saying she was “in the wrong party” because she
did not embody liberal values of her centre-right party.

“I spoke with the interior minister (about my concerns), she
didn’t want to hear it. She is in the wrong party,” he said.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry said Turkey’s Davutoglu had
not known about the interview and Vienna did not think that it
represented Ankara’s views. Schallenberg said Austria wanted to
keep up good bi-lateral relations.

Turkey and Austria have important ties in the energy sector.
Turkey plays a role in the Vienna-based Nabucco gas pipeline
project and Austrian oil and gas group OMV (OMVV.VI: ) wants
develop it as an energy hub for Europe.
(Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Austria summons Turkey envoy over integration remarks