Austria goes on offensive to counter negative press

VIENNA: Hoping to allay fears of a totalitarian, Hitler-like regime, Austria’s new government has launched an all-out publicity offensive.

VIENNA: Hoping to allay fears of a totalitarian, Hitler-like regime, Austria’s new government has launched an all-out publicity offensive.

VIENNA: Hoping to allay fears of a totalitarian, Hitler-like

regime, Austria’s new government has launched an all-out publicity

offensive.



The formation of a government consisting of a conservative coalition

from the OVP (the Austrian People’s Party) and the FPO (the Austrian

Freedom Party) has raised intense reactions within, as well as outside,

the Alpine Republic. Among the fears the government is hoping to put to

rest are the curtailing of civil liberties as well as racial unrest.



A ’Declaration of Democracy’ by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and FPO

chief Jorg Haider (which appeared in the International Herald Tribune)

marked the start of the PR offensive. Despite its best efforts, however,

the government has not been entirely able to fend off anti-Haider

demonstrations and threats of EU sanctions, according to Berlin-based

Austrian press attache Georg Schnetzer.



’It’s important to show EU partners that their fears will not be

realized,’ he said.



This task will primarily fall upon Schuessel’s shoulders, added Wolfgang

Rosam, owner of Publico (Austria’s largest PR agency). By touring the

country, Schuessel attempted to generate a sense of trust in the new

government.



While many have pegged Haider as an unappetizing politician, the

government is going out of its way to shunt comparisons to Hitler.



According to Elfriede Krempl, General Secretary of the Austrian

Hoteliers Association, the steady number of tourist bookings seems to

suggest that the country is not being perceived as a potential menace.

’Austria itself poses no external threat,’ he said.



Kreml added that his organization was one of the groups that appealed to

Schuessel and his government to start a PR offensive, simply to show the

world that Austria is not dangerous. But despite the massive press

coverage - most of it negative - Fritz Bauer, the Berlin-based director

of Austrian publicity, has observed only a few negative effects. ’We

can’t prescribe what people should think,’ he said.



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