Fajon and Carinthia governor condemn FPÖ's anti-Slovenian post
Ljubljana/Klagenfurt, 10 February - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon and Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser have condemned the anti-Slovenian message posted on social media by the youth wing of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ). Fajon called for urgent action, and Kaiser pledged to do everything possible to ensure the successful coexistence of the German- and Slovenian-speaking communities.
"The regional governor and president of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) in Carinthia and I agreed today that the rhetoric of the FPÖ towards the Slovenian community in the Austrian province of Carinthia is unacceptable," Fajon wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Fajon, who called Kaiser after the FPÖ's Carinthian youth wing urged voters in an Instagram post on Tuesday to remove the SPÖ from power at the upcoming provincial elections and thus stop the province's "Slovenisation", added she had told the governor that such rhetoric was causing strong indignation and that action was urgent.
The pair agreed that the post constituted an abuse of the election campaign, being not only an attack on the Slovenian community and inciting hatred against Slovenians, but also an attack on the SPÖ. "Kaiser assured me that social democracy in Austrian Carinthia is a guarantee of respect for the rights of the Slovenian community," the minister added.
Kaiser already condemned the rhetoric of the FPÖ before Fajon's call and said he would do everything in his power to ensure the successful coexistence of his German- and Slovenian-speaking compatriots, the Austrian news agency APA reported.
FPÖ Carinthia head chairman Erwin Angerer meanwhile tried to downplay the event on Thursday, saying it had not been directed against the Slovenian minority, but against the SPÖ. He told the youth wing he wanted to be informed in advance of their future publications.
The post has caused a lot of indignation among the minority and in Slovenia, with concern also being expressed today by Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon. "It is particularly worrying that the anti-Slovenian slogans are coming from young people, who we would expect to have open views and to understand how diversity enriches the EU," Arčon was quoted as saying by his office.
Arčon also stressed that it was important that Slovenia "is consistent in protecting the rights of the Slovenian ethnic community in Carinthia and that it reacts firmly to phenomena that are anti-European and point us to the past instead of to the future".
He welcomed the reaction of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, which sent a verbal note to the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs through the Slovenian Embassy in Vienna to express concern over the post and summoned Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Ellison-Kramer for a meeting.
"The post is an abject act against the Slovenian ethnic community in the Austrian province of Carinthia and a show of rejection of the Slovenian language and culture, which are a precious part of the identity of Austrian Carinthia," the ministry wrote, while calling on Austria to act and to fully implement minority rights under Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty.
Manuel Jug, the president of the Association of Slovenian Organisations (ZSO) in Carinthia, also condemned the post. He expressed regret that the FPÖ and its Carinthia youth organisation were "trying to incite hatred against our language and our culture, which has always been part of Carinthia's identity".
Reactions to the post, which has been removed, moreover came from Slovenian parties, including today from the coalition Left, which said that the actual state of affairs in Carinthia could not be further removed from "Slovenisation" than it is.
The Left condemned the "national-chauvinist vision of a Germanic Carinthia" and blamed the decline of the Slovenian-speaking population in Carinthia on the Austrian government's positions, the passivity of Slovenian foreign policy and the normalisation of right-wing populism in Europe.
Condemnations also came on Thursday from Minister Fajon's SocDems and the opposition Democratic Party (SDS) as well as the youth wing of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi). The latter wrote it was extremely worrying that the FPÖ's youth wing finds posting such things an acceptable method for scoring political points.
The NSi's youth added that this event, together with the upcoming 85th anniversary of Austria's annexation to the Third Reich, reminded us how important it was for young people to learn about history, as this was the only way to prevent the horrors of history from repeating.