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Austria refuses to provide venue for Valdai Discussion Club conference

Valdai Council chairman Andrey Bystritsky said that "domestic political reasons" are behind the Austrian National Defense Academy's refusal to provide a venue for the forum
Valdai Council chairman Andrey Bystritsky Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Valdai Council chairman Andrey Bystritsky
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

VIENNA, May 20. /TASS/. Austria has refused to participate and provide a venue for the 6th European conference of the Valdai International Discussion Club one day before the event, Valdai Council chairman Andrey Bystritsky told reporters on Monday.

"Austrian colleagues informed us just several hours ago they will not be able to take part in the conference," Bystritsky said, adding that Austria’s National Defense Academy has refused to provide a venue for the forum.

It was initially planned that Austrian Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Johannes Peterlik would attend the conference’s plenary session.

"I am sure there are many domestic political reasons for that and they have nothing to do with Russia," Bystritsky said. "But all of us are surprised. This is a quite unique development."

He said however that the forum has not been cancelled. Instead, it will be organized at the Grand Wien hotel using the club’s own resources. "I am absolutely sure we will meet tomorrow. It is very important," he added.

The 6th Valdai European conference will be held in Vienna on May 21. Its agenda will focus on topics of multilateral diplomacy and Russia’s relations with the European Union.

Situation in Austria

On May 18, leader of the Freedom Party of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache stepped down as the country’s Vice Chancellor after the German magazine Der Spiegel and the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung had published a hidden camera video, which showed Strache, his aide Johann Gudenus and an unknown Russian-speaking woman discussing the possibility of buying the tabloid Kronen Zeitung and securing informational support for the party ahead of the 2017 parliamentary election in return for access to construction contracts in Austria.

After that, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he saw no possibility for further cooperation with that party in the coalition government. Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen suggested holding a snap parliamentary election in September.