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2005-02-22

Some political geography 

Austrian weekly Profil has a chilling report [DE] about how bad things are in Moldova: 'In the black hole of Europe' is the speculative title. As an old Albania-watcher, I remember this kind of titles being reserved for sensationalist stories about that country, but now we read, at the end of paragraph one: "At an average monthly income of 60 dollars, Moldova is today the poorest country in Europe, even behind Albania." Coincidentally, Herbert Lackner's opinion-piece [DE] in the same issue about provincial political corruption in FPÖ-dominated Carinthia appears under the stupid heading 'Moldova in Central Europe'.

Central Europe, that's where this weblog is published, as I have tried to tell the kind linkers at Fistful of Euros. They had me under Western Europe initially, but an appeal on my part managed to convince them to reclassify this blog according to my geographical desires. Only, it didn't stick. Yesterday I noticed that Ostracised from Österreich is back in Western Europe, and Central Europe is again restricted to the Czech Republic and two blogs from the Baltics. Ta.

Meanwhile, the ideal economic system for Volker Plass, the pragmatic top candidate of the Green fraction competing for the elections to the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber [Wirtschaftskammer], a kind of institutionalised lobby for all Austrian businesses, is "Austria as a green Finland" [DE], by which he means "an economy that mainly relies on research and innovation, that has an efficient and very effective social net, and that has the best education system in the world." These are goals I and most people will agree with. The hair in the soup for me is that Austria is, well, not Finland. Therefore I think that a vision for this economy should also respond to its location at the wealth barrier between the former West and East, and the excellent links into the latter. This means that neighbourhood and increasing integration of high-wage and medium-wage (on a global scale) economies will remain a local fact for several decades. I don't believe the best strategy for Austria is to stake everything exclusively on high-value-added high-tech (and tourism). There are structural deficits, mainly the lack of large Austrian-owned industrial companies, that pose obstacles to such an approach. I believe there is more to be done to benefit from lower cost-bases in the close vicinity, for example by developing a smarter approach to labor migration. This should be a natural political topic for Green (and other) entrepreneurs anyway.


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