Monday, 22. December 2014
21. 01. 10. - 16:00
By Thomas Hochwarter
People’s Party (ÖVP) Interior Minister Maria Fekter has warned that Austrian citizenship cannot be "bought" amid claims Carinthian Freedom Party (FPK) boss Uwe Scheuch promised easier citizenship proceedings in return for party donations.
The People’s Party minister said today (Thurs): "It is not possible to purchase Austrian citizenship."
Fekter explained "special links with Austria" had to be proven for someone to become an Austrian under a dual citizenship agreement.
"People who live here or are economically active here are evaluated differently than people who only make payments to an Austrian account but have no relation to Austria at all," she said in an interview with ORF’s Ö1 radio.
Asked whether she could imagine that "financial return services" as allegedly offered by FPK chief Scheuch were common practice, she said: "I strongly doubt that. Apart from that, I’m the last resort here."
Fekter admitted Austria was one of the countries which took part in "Citizenship by Investment" events in Japan and China, but said those interested were informed of the Austrian law and criteria that needed to be fulfilled.
The exact criteria for obtaining dual citizenship are not public, but Fekter claimed they were "very restrictive". Fekter added Russians investing in Austrian museums and galleries had great interest in Austrian citizenship. But she said all recent applications had been rejected.
Athletes and artists have occasionally become Austrian citizens after living and working in the country. Retired Croat-born football star Ivica Vastic – who played for the Austrian national team 50 times – and Russian opera diva Anna Netrebko are well-known examples of popular personalities being given Austrian citizenship.
Corruption prosecutors meanwhile said they were "of course" planning to look into the "Scheuch case", while magazine News and newspaper Kurier reported a Russian man allegedly negotiating an easy awarding of Austrian citizenship with the FPK chief had been interviewed by officials earlier this week.
Scheuch – who was last Saturday elected leader of the FPK which recently split from the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) to cooperate with right-wing rivals the Freedom party (FPÖ) – pledged to cooperate with prosecutors after the controversial audiotape emerged last week.
Magazine News claims the tape holds a recording of the former FPÖ MP offering a Russian businessman easier proceedings in becoming an Austrian citizen if he invests five million Euros in a project in Carinthia and donates five to ten per cent of the sum to his party, which at the time was the BZÖ.
The Greens in Carinthia said early elections must now be held and the Carinthian Social Democrats (SPÖ) joined them in calling on Scheuch to step down.
But Scheuch said he could not remember whether the conversation had taken place and said it was likely that the audiotape was part of a campaign against him and the newly set up FPK.
Scheuch said he would "obviously" speak with a lot of people about investing in the southern province of Carinthia, but added the tape might have been manipulated.
Magazine News reported today that the person allegedly heard speaking to Scheuch on the tape had confirmed the authenticity of the tape. The weekly claimed the man identified as Austrian Kurt L. was being treated as a principal witness by corruption prosecutors.
The man said the conversation took place last year and was not taken out of context, News reports.
"The conversation was recorded to ensure the circumstances would not change for the worse for my client considering the possible realisation of the planned project," the man is quoted as saying.
But the deal eventually fell through, the weekly claims.
"I’ve got a clear conscience," Scheuch said.
His former party BZÖ dismissed rumours they were behind a plan to harm the FPK leader’s reputation.
» General News 2012-05-23
Austria’s longest-serving governor has been identified as the most capable one in the opinion of citizens.
» General News 2012-05-18
The Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) has finally dismissed the circulating rumours about teaming up with a billionaire businessman.
» General News 2012-05-17
The chances of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) to avoid dropping out of parliament are waning, according to a new poll.
» General News 2012-05-31
A renowned economist has warned from reintroducing the drachma in Greece.
» General News 2012-05-31
Austria has been criticised for its high public debts.
» General News 2012-05-31
People’s Party (ÖVP) Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl has ended his faction’s partnership with the Greens.
» Business 2012-05-30
The number of pilots and stewardesses leaving Austrian Airlines (AUA) because of the upcoming pay cuts is on the rise.
» Business 2012-05-29
Dozens of pilots have left Austrian Airlines (AUA) in the past weeks, according to the loss-making carrier’s works committee.
» General News 2012-05-24
The government is intensifying its attempts to pass a transparency package in parliament.
Ebola's deadly reach impacts Vienna student
Austria has yet to record its first case of Ebola, but the feared virus has already had a severe impact on the lives of Africans living in Vienna.
Grigorij Sokolov Works His Magic At Vienna Konzerthaus
Whilst the world-famous Wizard of Oz played at the Volksoper, there was another Wizard in the Konzerthaus giving his 16th performance in Vienna!
Penelope Cruz To Play The Ice Cream Killer
The memoirs of the woman dubbed the Ice Cream Killer after she shot dead two ex-lovers before hacking the bodies up with a chainsaw and telling neighbours the noise was a new ice cream machine are due to be turned into a blockbuster with Penelope Cruz playing the lead role.
Kid Left In Coma After Beaten By Teacher For Talking
This is the shocking image of a little Chinese girl before and after she was punished by her teacher - for talking in class.
Freezing Rain Causes Chaos In Central Europe
Freezing weather has arrived in Europe with a vengeance with a layer of ice blanketing parts of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic and causing traffic chaos.
Holey Smoke As Car Disappears Down Sinkhole
Motorist Wei Hsiao found himself in a hole lot of trouble in China when a giant sinkhole opened up on the road beneath him, swallowing his entire car.
Shock Moment Police Helicopter Explodes On Street
This is the moment a police helicopter exploded into a spinning ball of flame in Chile when a fire truck clipped one of its rotors.
More Than Twenty 100,000 GBP Motors Used In Bridal Convoy
A Chinese couple who wanted to have the most expensive wedding convoy possible arranged for a convoy of top of the range cars including a stretch Hummer followed by Lamborghinis, Porsches and other VIP motors.
Riot Police Star In Downs Syndrome Calendar
Spanish riot police have joined forces with Down's syndrome kids to take part in a special calendar for charity.
Chinese Nuclear Winter Smog Leaves Clinics Full
Fresh proof of Chinese scientists' claims that the country's toxic air pollution resembles a nuclear winter are shown by these images that show clinics and hospitals packed with patients suffering with trouble breathing.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|UN Security Expert Says One Jihad Poster Girl Is Dead|
|Ebola's deadly reach impacts Vienna student|
|Russian Cops Beat Man To A Pulp In Front Of Children|
|Porsche Driver Crushed After Ploughing Into Lorry|
|Grigorij Sokolov Works His Magic At Vienna Konzerthaus|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.