Outspoken Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider, who sparked international outrage with comments praising Nazi policies, died on Saturday when his car veered off the road. Haider, 58, suffered serious head and chest injuries when his car flipped over several times and died en route to hospital, police said. Tributes were paid by Austrian politicians of all sides despite his notoriety. Haider grabbed international attention after his anti-immigration, anti-EU party won more than a quarter of the vote in a 1999 general election and became part of the government. The governor of Carinthia province and leader of the Alliance for Austria’s Future (BZOe) party was driving his official car on a road south of the provincial capital, Klagenfurt, when the accident happened. He had just overtaken another vehicle when his car came off the road for unknown reasons, according to police quoted by the APA news agency. Haider was to have attended a family celebration Saturday for his mother’s 90th birthday. “For us this is the end of the world,” BZOe deputy leader Stefan Petzner said. Austria’s President Heinz Fischer called Haider a “politician of great talent” who had “aroused enthusiasm but also strong criticism”.
The 2008 UEFA Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro-2008, a sports event, has found itself involved in dirty politics. Austria’s notorious politician, Joerg Haider, set out his indignation about the participation of Russia and Turkey at the European Championship. He was particularly concerned about Turkey’s success. Haider’s open self-promotion at Euro-2008 uncovered a very serious political problem for the European Union – future relations with Turkey and a huge Turkish community in the EU countries. Euro-2008 continues for three weeks already. Fortunately, football has not been dragged through the mud of politics. However, hardly had Russian and Turkish national teams made their way to the semi-finals, when one of Europe’s most scandalous politicians, Joerg Haider, released a political statement on the matter. He was particularly angered with the success of Turkish footballers at the Championship. Mr. Haider said he did not understand why Euro-2008 semi-finalists Turkey and Russia had been allowed to play in the tournament. I wonder what these two nations have to do with Europe, Haider, the governor of the Austrian state of Carithia was quoted as saying in an interview with Die Presse newspaper. Haider is known for his comments on Nazi concentration camps, which he described as labor and punishment camps. When his party became a part of the ruling coalition in 2000, 14 EU countries considerably diminished their cooperation with Austria and introduced sanctions against the country. Haider was strongly against the expansion of the European Union, as well as against Austria’s incorporation in it. The politician believes that it would be better to unite Austria with Germany – a remark, which made many draw a parallel between Joerg Haider and Adolf Hitler, since Hitler was the last person in the world to touch upon such an idea.
A son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is mediating in the case of two Austrians held by al Qaeda in north Africa and believes a release could come within hours, an Austrian politician said on Saturday. Saif al-Islam, who heads the Gaddafi Foundation charity, was in touch with the kidnappers in Mali, a spokesman for Carinthia governor Joerg Haider told Reuters. “Our information from Libya is that the negotiations in Mali have reached a decisive phase and … in the next few hours there could be a decision in this matter … a release,” the spokesman quoted Haider as saying. But he said it could take longer. “It could be tomorrow or the next day,” he said. The mediation of Gaddafi’s son, who has studied in Austria and is a friend of right-wing populist Haider, raised some hopes for the release of the two Austrian tourists who were seized in Tunisia last month and are reported to be held in northern Mali. Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said a meeting of the crisis team dealing with the hostages on Saturday evening had not been informed of any imminent release. “The crisis team has had no indication of that kind of dramatic development,” he told Reuters. Tiemoko Diallo repots.
Vienna – The provincial parliament in the southern Austrian province Carinthia called on its provincial government to prepare legislation banning the construction of mosques or minarets. The province’s governor, the populist former leader of the rightist Freedom Party, Joerg Haider, had repeatedly called for anti- Muslim measures along those lines.