The Guardian: 'stories of Austria's "problem" continue to abound' 

Emma Brockes makes her own contribution to the tradition, in an attack piece titled "The question: what is Austria's problem?".

Meanwhile, at the Guardian newsblog, Simon Jeffery kindly discusses my entry from last Friday in a post that is more lyrically titled "The truth is in the stuffing". Sadly for me, in the end Jeffery takes me to have said that Schüssel wanted negotiations with the goal of priviledged status (did I really write that? Can't find where). On the basis of such a criterion Jeffery concludes that, against my prediction, Schüssel failed. To repeat what I meant to say, I think Schüssel wanted negotiations for full membership, but for a variety of reasons he also wanted an additional feeble reference to the possibility of other scenarios in the text, for which he could then claim the credit. On that criterion, I agree with Brussels Gonzo over at afoe that it is not easy to see whether Schüssel has succeeded or failed. At the end of the day, this determination does not matter so much, since the outcome is in any case good enough for Schüssel to be able to spin it in his favour come the next national election campaign (although clearly the opposition will try to spoil his cynical fun).

Back to Emma Brockes with a point-by-point rebuttal of her Austria-bashing... No, there's no point. Once you live in a "land of Edelweiss and yodelling" where "one can scarcely open a cupboard without stumbling across an old Nazi in hiding", "with the memory of former Nazi president Kurt Waldheim not quite dead yet" and where "any skin tone deeper than light tan is enough to make one stand out in Salzburg", then you won't be surprised that "recently the world's most prominent Austrian, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was found to have a Nazi father hiding in the cupboard." It is then only a natural conclusion on behalf of Brockes that "Austria exhibits a certain cultural difference from the 24 other nations of Europe who voted to allow Turkey into the EU. Perhaps it should consider altering the terms of its membership."

Ostracised from without and within, you may then be forgiven for a little, almost complacent gasp of exasperation and for calling it an early night.

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