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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07VIENNA1408 2007-05-29 11:06:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vienna
Cable title:  

AUSTRIAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS: May 24, 2007

Tags:   OPRC KPAO AU 
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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVI #1408/01 1491106
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291106Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY VIENNA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7433
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITEHOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
					  UNCLAS VIENNA 001408 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/AGS, INR/EU, AND EUR/PPD FOR YVETTE SAINT-ANDRE

OSD FOR COMMANDER CHAFFEE

WHITEHOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KPAO AU

SUBJECT: AUSTRIAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS: May 24, 2007


Elsner Claims Memory Loss



1. The former head of the Bawag bank, Helmut Elsner, appearing for a
second time before the parliamentary inquiry into bank supervision
in Austria, has claimed he cannot answer a number of questions
because of memory loss following a recent heart bypass operation.
Elsner faces charges of fraud and false accounting at the bank. He
also refused to answer questions on the grounds that this could
jeopardize his trial on those charges, which has been scheduled for
July.
Reporting on former bank Bawag boss Helmut Elsner's appearance
before the parliamentary inquiry into bank supervision in Austria,
semi-official daily Wiener Zeitung also noted that the current Bawag
chief, Ewald Nowotny, has waived Elsner's agreement to maintain the
confidentiality of bank activities undertaken when he held his

SIPDIS
former position. During his first hearing before the parliamentary
banking committee, Elsner had claimed bank confidentiality prevented
him from answering most of the questions. Justice authorities in
Vienna however, said the former banker must answer questions on some
Bawag transactions and on a suspected bankruptcy. Elsner, who is
currently in detention in Vienna awaiting his July trial, was
released from a rehabilitation clinic in the province of Carinthia
about two weeks ago following a heart bypass operation.


No Solution on Town Signs



2. A meeting yesterday between Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer
and Carinthian Governor Joerg Haider to discuss ways to resolve the
controversy over bi-lingual town signs in Austria's southernmost
province was not successful. Although Haider emphasized afterwards
that his discussion with the Chancellor had been "highly
constructive," he insists that any solution can only be based on
broad agreement across party boundaries, according to ORF online
news.


Putin in Vienna



3. All Austrian media continue to report on Russian President
Vladimir Putin's official visit to Austria. Yesterday, Putin and
Austrian President Heinz Fischer discussed a range of issues
including human rights, economic relations and the status of Kosovo.
Austrian media emphasized in particular that Putin said at a press
conference that Russia must listen to criticism of his government's
record on press freedom and democracy, but that he pointed out other
countries, including Austria, have also been noted for not always
observing human rights. Austrian and Russian business leaders signed
deals yesterday said to be worth more than three billion Euros. The
Russian President will end his visit by laying a wreath at the
Russian memorial on Schwarzenbergplatz later this morning.
All Austrian media report extensively on the official visit to
Austria of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to
semi-official daily Wiener Zeitung, Putin's visit resulted in
billion-Euro deals, with about 30 companies concluding agreements
worth about three billion Euros, but it brought no rapprochement on
the issue of Kosovo. Like many Austrian media outlets, the daily
emphasized the "open and fair dialogue" with Putin, and quotes the
Russian President as promising Austria that its natural gas supply
contracts with Russia were guaranteed in the long run, as existing
agreements are valid until 2027. Similarly, mass-circulation tabloid
Kronen Zeitung quoted Putin, who emphasized "Austria can count on
Russia" when it comes to its gas supplies. In addition, the tabloid
headlined "Austria trip is to reconcile Putin and the EU," and
suggests that Brussels is hoping the Russian President's visit to
Vienna will lead to an improvement of the EU's strained relations
with Russia. Liberal daily Der Standard quoted Putin as admitting
that Russia "needs to listen to the criticism it is facing." Still,
the daily argues, despite the kind words and conciliatory tones, the
Russian President remained tough on key issues. Putin also dismissed
criticism from countries that "adopt a patronizing attitude towards
Russia, something which Austria has not done." Centrist daily Die
Presse focused on Putin's opposition to US plans for a missile
defense system in Eastern Europe. The daily quotes the Russian
President as warning against a renewed arms race and stressing that
Europe "does not need any new weapons systems." There has been "no
change in our position on the US system, and there won't be one,
either, as we've not heard anything new from the Americans" on the
issue, Putin said at a press conference.


Clinton Visits Vienna


4. Former US President Bill Clinton is to be the guest of honor at
the AIDS Life charity gala in Vienna's Schoenbrunn Palace today. In
addition, Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer will present the former
President with a one-million-dollar donation from Austria to the
HIV/AIDS initiative run by the William J. Clinton Foundation. The
former US President is also expected to attend the Vienna
Philharmonic Orchestra's Concert for Europe at Schoenbrunn, wrote
ORF online news.


US Calls For New Iran Sanctions



5. The United States said it will push for a new set of sanctions
against Iran for defying UN demands to suspend its uranium
enrichment program. The call came after the UN's nuclear watchdog
released a report in Vienna yesterday saying Tehran was stepping up
enrichment and obstructing inspections. The IAEA's Director General,
Mohamed ElBaradei, has been criticized by Washington for appearing
to suggest that Iran might have to be allowed some basic enrichment
capabilities, Austrian radio noted.
Reporting on developments in the controversy over Iran's nuclear
ambitions, ORF radio in its early morning news program Morgenjournal
quoted Iran's envoy to the IAEA as saying the IAEA Director
General's assessment of Iran's enrichment capabilities should be
accepted: "This is a very important point. As Mr. El Baradei has
announced, America and Western countries should accept the new
reality and adapt themselves to it." Meanwhile, in liberal daily Der
Standard, foreign editor and Middle East expert Gudrun Harrer
suggests that Tehran "is running out of time in the UN Security
Council." The IAEA's latest report on Iran emphasized that for the
Agency "certain aspects" regarding the goal and the specifics of the
Iranian nuclear program still remain unclear.
McCaw