WEEKLY WEB WATCH: Countering the far right implications

Organisation: PRVA

Organisation: PRVA

Issue: Austria’s international reputation

At: www.keepintouch.at

Austria’s reputation has recently taken something of a bashing. This is

as a result of the inclusion in the Austrian government of the

ultra-right wing Freedom Party. It is extremely rare for an entire

country to be on the receiving end of almost universal condemnation, so

Austria’s PR trade association, the PRVA, decided on an almost

unprecedented move: to ’rebrand’ Austria.

Beate Steiner, president of the PRVA and WU commissioner Franz Fischler

launched a communications initiative, ’Keep in Touch - Ne quittex pas’,

as a counter-move to global accusations of xenophobic fascism and as a

result of diplomatic sanctions imposed by the 14 other EU countries.

It aims to maintain and foster discourse between Austria and the rest of

the world.

Its prime means of communication is a web site (www.keepintouch.at),

which can be viewed in German, English and French.

The site aims to give the user a balanced view of Austria in context of

its socio-political conditions, presenting the user with discussion

forums and essays by leading Austrian researchers and experts.

The initiative was conceived and set up voluntarily by members of the

PRVA and has been sponsored by various private sector businesses. These

include Alcatel Austria, Interlingua Translations, Kapper and Partner

Communications and Short Cut Internet Marketing. Key areas on the site

are ’Home’, ’About’, ’Facts’, ’Essays’, ’Forum’, ’Contact’ and


One click on the homepage enables the user to read the foreword by


He introduces the concept behind the site saying that ’many wonder how

it is possible that Austria has so few friends abroad’. He posits that

Austria should not evade its history, that it must face up to it and

learn by its mistakes: ’a knowledge of the holocaust makes it easier to

understand why tempting voters with xenophobic slogans is


’Facts’ topics include the 1999 parliamentary elections and national-

socialism. In the ’Essays’ section an article cites and disputes J┼írg

Haider’s assertion that ’the feminist illusion of the self-realisation

of the woman and mother in the career world was a disastrous


In the ’Forum’ section users are invited to discuss current issues. The

question being discussed changes regularly. At the time of going to

press the subject was ’Sanctions against Austria - is there an


Keep in Touch is easily navigated and simply illustrated. The site

provides the user with a wide-ranging source of opinion on the situation

in Austria and clearly conveys that the public perception of Austria

belies the reality.

What remains to be seen is to what extent the site will help overhaul

the country’s reputation.

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