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2005-10-13

Go east! [Swedish conservative edition] 

It is a common topos of Austrian oppositional rhetorics to demand that Austria should become like Sweden (or Scandinavia in general): have the world-best education system and social welfare, while still managing the fastest growth rates among the EU-15. Although I'm myself an admirer of Scandinavian accomplishments in these areas, I am sometimes sceptical as to the chances of relocating Austria to Europe's northern region - because of cultural, historical, and geographical differences [from my archive, an ossified post from March 2004].

All the cuter is it to find this paragraph in a speech by conservative Swedish ex-PM Carl Bildt to a Scandinavian business audience on the topic of Eastern Europe:
Why are the Austrians doing as well as they are? It’s not rocket science – look at the map and see what their banks, trading houses and enterprises are doing.
To be fair, Bildt is not an uncritical Austria-fan, his ideological sympathies for the current government notwithstanding. This is what he wrote at the height of the recent crisis over Turkey's EU-accession:
Once upon a time, it was the rest of Europe that came to the rescue of Vienna when it was faced with the onslaught of the Ottoman armies. Vienna seems to be refighting that battle. But in a critical difference, the rest of Europe isn't coming to its rescue. Instead, Austria is isolated among the European Union members. Then, it was right to save Vienna. Now, it definitely is not.


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