The blatant hypocrisy of European leaders in reacting in exactly opposite ways to the scourge of resurgent nationalist extremism is well exposed by comparing the treatment of the so-called Austrian Freedom Party, led by Jörg Haider, and Sinn Féin/IRA, led by Gerry Adams. The threat posed by these two essentially fascist parties has brought to light the sheer double standards practised by the European Union.
The EU threatened to impose sanctions against Austria and break off diplomatic relations with its Government even before the far-right Freedom Party was allowed into coalition. President Jacques Chirac of France said it was "indispensable" that Austria's 14 EU partners decide on joint measures "rapidly"; he presented "precise proposals" for action to the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres. The President of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine, even described a scenario under which Austria could be ejected from the EU: she told French Radio that sanctions contained in the EU's Treaty of Amsterdam could lead to the exclusion of a member nation whose government "violates the fundamental rights of [its] people".
Such action would be fully justified, for, as EU spokeswoman Catherine Colonna has pointed out, Mr Haider's party "is inspired by an ideology that is opposed to the values of humanism and respect for the dignity of man on which the European Union is founded". The agenda promoted by his Party is xenophobic and ultra-nationalist.
Haider, born of Nazi parents, has been dubbed the "Ghadafi of Carinthia", the Austrian Province of which he became Governor in 1991 but was forced to resign after publicly praising Adolf Hitler's "orderly employment policy", and for calling veterans of the Waffen SS "decent people of good character". The record of his public career reveals numerous anti-Semitic statements utilising holocaust terminology or legitimising Nazi policy and activities. He has exhibited an insensitivity to Nazi brutality and a refusal to appreciate the suffering endured by those who lived under Nazi rule. He re-entered the National Parliament in March, 1992, and in the 1994 elections his Party gained 22.6% of the vote – a greater figure that Sinn Féin/IRA ever achieved.
How does such determination to ostracise the Austrian Freedom Party even before its entry into government compare with the EU's and world leaders' reaction to the actual placement of Sinn Féin/IRA in the present coalition Government of Northern Ireland?
Sinn Féin/IRA is a terrorist organisation guilty of savage destruction and mass murder, yet still refusing to decommission its largest arsenal of illegal weaponry in Europe despite signing up to the Mitchell Principles and committing itself to terms of the Belfast Agreement. Its arsenal is estimated to include three tonnes of Semtex, 600 assorted detonators, 600 AK-47/AKM Czech and Romanian-made rifles, 40 Webley .455 revolvers, 40 rocket propelled grenade launchers, 20 DShK heavy machine guns, 12 FN MAG 7.62mm medium machine guns, 6 flame throwers, 2 SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles and a Barrett 50 sniper rifle.
By contrast, the Austrian Freedom Party, despite its extremism, is unarmed and has never resorted to threat, violence or murder. Its worst action was to close down minority language schools when it gained power in the Province of Carinthia. Yet the British Government's policy of active appeasement of the Irish Republican murder machine has enabled gunmen in suits to stalk the corridors of Parliament Buildings in Belfast, promote their minority ethos, and plan the genocide of Unionist culture and the Unionist identity. Aided, abetted and elevated by the Clinton Administration and backed by the EU which sympathises with their goal of a united Ireland, their participation in Ulster's coalition Government with a smaller percentage of the vote than the Freedom Party was formally legalised through the Belfast Agreement.
European countries and the USA demanded tough action against an Austrian political party before it was even in power, on the grounds that it would endanger what Austrian President Klestil called "the values of the common Europe, such as democracy and pluralism"; but there was never a squeak of discontent about the fact that Sinn Féin/IRA, whose 'Ourselves Alone' mentality embodies the dynamic opposite of those values, is actively holding a weakling and unprincipled British Government and the people of Northern Ireland to ransom at the barrel of a gun.
So much for the political and moral values of the EU. It was clearly in order for unrepentant bombers and murderers to be mass-released onto the streets of Northern Ireland while their representatives are welcomed into government, but in Austria it was necessary to try to prevent extremists who have not bombed or murdered from entering government with a larger electoral mandate than Sinn Féin/IRA. The EU took drastic action against Austria in an attempt to uphold the values of "humanism", "democracy" and "pluralism" when these appeared to be threatened by an extremist Party; in Northern Ireland, on the other hand, the EU has never challenged the British Government's progressive capitulation to the convicted terrorist perpetrators of crimes against those very values, even after their representatives were accepted into government.