Coaching Your Way Out of the Pandemic: Why Now Is the Best Time to Jump-Start Your Life

• The pandemic has had a massive effect on people’s mental health worldwide
• Coaching can help get you back on track and focus on your goals
• Dilek Süzal is ready to help and has a special deal for Metropolitans

If the pandemic has affected your mental health and made you feel helpless, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder have quadrupled in adults over the past year and a half. Symptoms often include difficulty concentrating and making decisions, feelings of numbness and frustration as well as changes in energy, desires and interests. Fortunately, there are trained professionals who can help you out of your pandemic funk.

One such person is Dilek Süzal, a Vienna-based personal and professional development coach from Austria with Turkish roots who’s turned her passion for helping others discover and actualize their potential into a flourishing career. A Metropolitan herself, she turned to Metropole to share how coaching can get you back on track and achieve your goals.

Coaching Vs. Therapy

Unlike therapy, where healthcare professionals analyze a patients’ past in order to understand present behavior and help them recover from trauma, coaches help their clients navigate problem areas in their lives, providing them with the tools to work toward specific goals.

Coaching sessions are judgment-free safe spaces and offer a pathway to achieving future goals by identifying problems, devising solutions and setting achievable targets. The coach follows structured processes to guide clients toward their ultimate goal, like a friendly companion illuminating the path forward.

Meet Dilek Süzal

Over her two-decade long career as an architect, this proud mother of two was committed to helping others build their ideal physical environment. But over time, she began to wonder what was behind the façade and started digging deeper … starting with herself. “I’ve been on both ends of a coaching session,” Süzal shares with us. “I’ve benefitted greatly from coaching and it’s the joy of my life to be able to guide others now.” As a fellow Metropolitan, she knows the hardships connected to relocating and navigating a new city. “I understand Vienna’s international community because I’m a part of it. I’ve been there, I’ve shared the struggles and I’m here to lend a helping hand,” the Turkish native says of her personal journey.

Coaching for Everyone

Whether you feel the need to reinvigorate your personal life or want to kickstart your career, Süzal has the tools to help you. As a life and business coach, her mentoring sessions focus on the following themes:

  • Self-Awareness and Mastery
  • Courage and Strategy for Transformation
  • Adaptation to a New Cultural Environment
  • Professional Development and Career Transition in a New Location
  • Business – Entrepreneurship Coaching and Creating Business Plans
  • Body-Mind-Soul Alignment and Combating Procrastination

Are You Ready?

If you’re not sure if coaching is right for you, ask yourself this: Do you feel that you’re capable of more and you’re not living up to your potential? Do you find yourself spinning in circles? Do you ever question your path and the choices you’ve made? Do you feel like you don’t fully belong? If just one of these questions made you nod, it might be time to hire a coach and get to work.

Setting a goal is easy, but making a structured plan to achieve it takes a little more work – and doing it alone is often nearly impossible. “If you’re stuck in a certain situation, it can be so hard to see the forest for the trees,” says Süzal. “A coach comes into your life with a blank canvas and supports you as you draw up a plan with small, achievable steps, one after the other.”

The pandemic brought on a flurry of social media posts, articles and ideas on how to best use your downtime. After a year, however, people are less self-actualized and more fatigued and unmotivated than ever. “It’s normal to struggle right now, but it’s not necessary. Don’t feel alone, discouraged and down on yourself – book a session with me and get back on track,” encourages Süzal, who shifted her business online last year. “Doing a session via video chat doesn’t take anything away from the experience – on the contrary, being in their own safe space often helps my clients feel more comfortable right away and open up more freely,” she enthuses.

Time to Live Your Best Life

If you’re ready to meet Süzal and take the first step toward a brighter future, connect with her on her website or send her an email. You can find out more about her professional background on her LinkedIn profile and catch a glimpse of her personal life on her Instagram account. Tell her we sent you and get 15% off your first session.

This is a paid article by Dilek Süzal

Coronavirus in Austria | Vaccination Figures “Not Accurate” Says Hacker

Find here the daily COVID-19 updates for Austria, with everything you need to know about the coronavirus in Austria, brought to you by the Metropole team. Scroll down!

Or check out the sidebar or these quick links for details about:

Here is a wrap-up of the current developments regarding the coronavirus in Austria.

Week 4

January 24

News from Austria

  • According to the Executive City Councillor for Public Health, Peter Hacker, the COVID-19 vaccination figures published in the last several days are “Not accurate”.
    • When asked about the low vaccination rate in Vienna in an interview with ZIB2, Hacker pointed out that many of the booster shots haven’t been properly recorded.
    • This was particularly in those cases when the booster shot was administered after the Johnson&Johnson vaccine and with those who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection.
    • Due to technical difficulties, it has not been recorded that individuals that require only two jabs have received the booster shot.
    • Several thousand are missing according to Hacker.
    • “ELGA (Electronic Health Records) is working urgently to update the current figure,” Hacker adds.

News from Elsewhere

  • Israels expert panel advising the Health Ministry on the coronavirus has recommended the fourth shot for people over 18 years of age.
    • The recommendation applies only to adults who have received the booster shot over five months ago or have recovered from an infection in the same period.
    • The recommendation still awaits approval by the Health Ministry director-general before implementation.  
    • “The decision has been made after receiving encouraging data that the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine made people three to five times more resistant to serious illness than triple-vaccinated people in the same age group,” says the announcement.

Covid on January 10-16 | Thousands March Against Mandatory Vaccination in Vienna

Find here the daily COVID-19 updates for Austria, with everything you need to know about the coronavirus in Austria, brought to you by the Metropole team. Scroll down!

Or check out the sidebar or these quick links for details about:

Here is a wrap-up of the current developments regarding the coronavirus in Austria.

Week 2

January 16

News from Austria

  • Thousands of protesters gathered yesterday in Vienna to march against the government plans to introduce mandatory vaccination for all next month.
    • Around 27,000 thousand people rallied in the inner city to protest the proposed mandatory vaccination and other COVID-19 measures.
    • Charges were pressed against a group of individuals dressed in uniforms with “Security” written on them, who were posing as police officers.
    • According to the spokesperson for the police department Christopher Verhnjak, the group was charged with wearing modified uniforms similar to those of the Austrian police force and could have been mistaken for police officers (§ 83a Sicherheitspolizeigesetz).
    • The police have also charged 565 protestors for not adhering to the mask mandate.
    • Some of the protesters have also been carrying posters with Nazi symbolism and Fotos of Adolf Hitler with the text “Impfen macht frei” (Vaccination makes one free), which is a clear reference to the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” which was written on the entrance of Nazi concentration camps.
    • “The persons have been charged and taken into custody,” the police stated on Twitter.
  • Austrian ministries reported 15,419 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day-incidence stands at 1,135.4 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
    • The value is highest in Salzburg (2,057.4) and lowest in Burgenland (648.0).
    • 13,920 people so far have died from COVID-19 in Austria.
    • Currently, 883 people are hospitalised due to a COVID-19 infection.
    • 212 people currently require intensive care.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total133,93188321213,920
Daily change+7,867-7-2+5
In percent+6.2%-0.8%-0.9%0%
Daily TestsRecoveredTested Positive
Total511,3411,295,738 1,443,589
Daily change-60,965+7,547 +15,419
In percent-10.7%+0.6% +1.1%
Vaccinations
Total vaccine jabs given17,082,550
– change since Friday+34,718
Number of people who got at least their 1st vaccine jab6,688,954
– in percentage of the population74.88%
– in percentage of the eligible population (aged 5+)78.70%
People fully immunized (valid vaccination certificate)6,396,713
– in percentage of the population71.61%
– in percentage of the eligible population (aged 5+)75.27%
Number of people who got the booster shot4,077,527
– in percentage of the population45.7%

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 16, 2021

Coronavirus in Austria | Thousands March Against Mandatory Vaccination in Vienna

Find here the daily COVID-19 updates for Austria, with everything you need to know about the coronavirus in Austria, brought to you by the Metropole team. Scroll down!

Or check out the sidebar or these quick links for details about:

Here is a wrap-up of the current developments regarding the coronavirus in Austria.

Week 2

January 16

News from Austria

  • Thousands of protesters gathered yesterday in Vienna to march against the government plans to introduce mandatory vaccination for all next month.
    • Around 27,000 thousand people rallied in the inner city to protest the proposed mandatory vaccination and other COVID-19 measures.
    • Charges were pressed against a group of individuals dressed in uniforms with “Security” written on them, who were posing as police officers.
    • According to the spokesperson for the police department Christopher Verhnjak, the group was charged with wearing modified uniforms similar to those of the Austrian police force and could have been mistaken for police officers (§ 83a Sicherheitspolizeigesetz).
    • The police have also charged 565 protestors for not adhering to the mask mandate.
    • Some of the protesters have also been carrying posters with Nazi symbolism and Fotos of Adolf Hitler with the text “Impfen macht frei” (Vaccination makes one free), which is a clear reference to the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” which was written on the entrance of Nazi concentration camps.
    • “The persons have been charged and taken into custody,” the police stated on Twitter.
  • Austrian ministries reported 15,419 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day-incidence stands at 1,135.4 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
    • The value is highest in Salzburg (2,057.4) and lowest in Burgenland (648.0).
    • 13,920 people so far have died from COVID-19 in Austria.
    • Currently, 883 people are hospitalised due to a COVID-19 infection.
    • 212 people currently require intensive care.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total133,93188321213,920
Daily change+7,867-7-2+5
In percent+6.2%-0.8%-0.9%0%
Daily TestsRecoveredTested Positive
Total511,3411,295,738 1,443,589
Daily change-60,965+7,547 +15,419
In percent-10.7%+0.6% +1.1%
Vaccinations
Total vaccine jabs given17,082,550
– change since Friday+34,718
Number of people who got at least their 1st vaccine jab6,688,954
– in percentage of the population74.88%
– in percentage of the eligible population (aged 5+)78.70%
People fully immunized (valid vaccination certificate)6,396,713
– in percentage of the population71.61%
– in percentage of the eligible population (aged 5+)75.27%
Number of people who got the booster shot4,077,527
– in percentage of the population45.7%

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 16, 2021

The Flavor Fraternity

“If there’s anything indispensable in this kitchen, it’s butter”, insists a tracksuit-wearing Lucas Steindorfer, chef de cuisine of the celebrated bar and bistro Bruder. Whether emulsified with acid to make a delicious sauce or added at the last minute to coat pasta with an irresistible gloss, it’s a critical component of countless dishes, reliably carrying entire menus for centuries. Beloved celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain even went so far as to argue that, no matter what you’re eating at your favorite restaurant, “chances are, you’re eating a ton of butter.”

But here at Bruder, the iconic ingredient works just a little bit harder. Take, for example, their deceptively simple starter of butter from mountain hay-fed cattle, bread from Joseph Brot and mountain hay salt: the dairy fat conveys the essence of the alpine hay, giving an earthy, herbal aftertaste that defies expectations. To top it off, it’s paired with mountain hay liqueur crafted by chef de bar Hubert Peter, who also serves whiskey infused with brown butter that carries a distinctive nutty taste. The mountain butter is supplied by none other than Peter’s father’s farm in Vorarlberg.

Indeed, family matters at Bruder, even though Steindorfer and Peter are not, as the name would suggest, related – at least not by blood. Rather, the “Trinkbruder” and “Essbruder” are, as they jokingly tell, “unified in spirit.” The two first met at Marktwirtschaft, a former indoor market in Siebensterngasse.While Peter mixed drinks at Barrikade, Steindorfer was cooking hearty meals across the room at Liebe, and so the brotherly love story began.

Specializing in nouveau Viennese cuisine, the cook with Carinthian roots earned his stripes during an apprenticeship with one of the great innovators of the local tradition – Christian Petz, who is best known for breathing new life into offal cuisine by eschewing the fashionable frills, foams and spherifications often attached to such a legacy over the years.

Meanwhile, Bregenzerwälder Peter mixed up the local bar scene with a DIY-approach to ingredients at Kussmaul, a Michelin-starred restaurant formerly located in Spittelberg, before opening his first bar, Barrikade, in 2016. The dedicated forager’s flavors are inspired by the forest’s bounty: He pickles, distills and preserves rosehips, blackberry leaves and pinecones with a passion. All the while, small bites and experimental drink toppings reveal Peter’s culinary roots, having apprenticed in the kitchen of Hotel Post in Bezau.

Buttering Up the Clientele

Finding a way to start their own project came with its challenges. After searching near and far for two years, “asking everyone and hoping for the best,” they finally stumbled upon the former premises of neo-Heuriger Zum G’Schupftn Ferdlcompletely by chance. A charming and approachable venue with high ceilings, arched windows and long, rustic wooden tables marked by celebrations past, it was a perfect fit for the generous hospitality Bruder practices, where food and drink share are served with ample Schmäh, as evidenced in the humorous names they give their creations, like Elefant im Porzellanladen (Elephant in a China Shop) or  Rüttel am Watschenbaum (Shake the Slapping Tree – beetroot, raspberry, fir and horseradish).

Looking like artefacts from an oceanographic expedition, countless liquid-filled vessels of different shapes and sizes line the windowsills and wall behind the bar, decorating the otherwise minimalistic space. These various essences, infusions and ferments form Peter’s arsenal: Bruder bottles ingredients and drinks throughout the year, allowing patrons to enjoy “the food we love, which is usually more abundant when our visitors are less hungry,” explains Peter.

But don’t get too attached to your favorites: Bruder is constantly reinventing their repertoire. “It’s important to us to be in a constant process of development,” says Peter. Indeed, Steindorfer has never added a dish to the menu twice – with two exceptions: the aforementioned bread and butter and Ernst sei Dank, a bratwurstmade after a recipe by Steindorfer’s uncle, Ernst, and served with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and the cheeky addition of a sardine. “Best served with Hubert’s home brewed beer!” notes Steindorfer.

His freshly developed Veal Tongue with Lentils and Cod Liver Mayonnaise is a reinterpretation of the classic Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna sauce). In a nod to his mentor, Steindorfer honors “less noble parts” like veal tongue and cod liver, adding that “so many products are not getting the appreciation they deserve.” What unites Peter and Steindorfer beyond their youthful humor and laid-back attitude is their deep appreciation for great ingredients, often hidden in plain sight – whether floating in a giant teardrop-shaped glass vessel or amply doused in butter.

Recipe

Veal Tongue with Lentils and Cod Liver Mayonnaise

Veal tongue and broth

  • 1 veal tongue
  • a bundle of soup vegetables (carrot, yellow turnip, leek, celeriac, parsley)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 juniper berries
  • A pinch of coriander seeds

Lentil Salad

  • 200-300g green lentils
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large yellow turnip
  • celeriac root
  • bunch of parsley leaves
  • bunch of chives

Dressing

  • mustard
  • neutral sunflower oil
  • apple cider vinegar

Mayonnaise

  • 115 mlparsley oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tin of smoked cod liver

To serve

  • lentil poppadum
  • sliced gherkin
  • Bruder’s homemade brew
  1. Place the veal tongue, soup vegetables, coriander, juniper and bay leaves into a saucepan. Season and cover lightly with water. With the lid on, let the broth simmer until the tongue is soft. Set aside to cool, then peel the tongue and refrigerate it. Slice the cold tongue thinly.
  2. After rinsing the lentils, boil them with 700ml of unsalted water until al dente. Strain. Cut a brunoise (small cubes) of carrot, yellow turnip and celeriac root, then blanch in the simmering veal broth until al dente. Rinse briefly with cold water, set aside. Make a dressing with a little veal broth, mustard, salt and pepper and neutral sunflower oil, then toss the blanched vegetables and lentils with it. Garnish with chives and plenty of chopped parsley, season to taste and let the mixture marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Whisk the egg yolk and vinegar in a bowl. Slowly pour the oil in, whisking constantly to make sure the mayonnaise emulsifies entirely. Mix in some cod liver and a healthy pinch of salt once stable.
  4. Place the slices of veal tongue onto a bed of lentil salad, top with some gherkin and mayonnaise. Serve with a lentil poppadum and some cold beer from Bruder.

Bruder

6., Windmühlgasse 20

Wed-Sat 17:00-1:00

0664 135 13 20

bruder.xyz

Farm to Fork

Katharina Schinner-Krendl of Heu und Gabel has a missionary’s zeal; when she rhapsodizes about the sourdough bread from the Waldviertel’s Kasses bakery or the tender ham from Vienna’s storied butcher Thum, you find yourself instantly craving a ham sandwich.

A former deputy on Vienna’s municipal council, she knows how to captivate, placing her skills of persuasion in the service of the deli and Stadtheuriger on Meidlinger Markt which she opened with her husband in August 2020. The timing was fortuitous: In recent years, the formerly hardscrabble market has left culinary no man’s land and become a favorite haunt for gourmets. Heu und Gabel fit right in, preaching a gospel of high-quality local fare, sold to go or served on site. “We want to create awareness for healthy, seasonal food from the immediate region,“ say the Schinner-Krendls. In the months before opening, they scoured Vienna’s surroundings, visiting farms and producers in search of the very best. From time to time, you might spot one of their suppliers dropping off fresh goods, which go straight to the shop – or your plate.

Stepping into the bright interior of their market stall, your gaze is drawn toward a steel slicer, where a rosy ham hock proudly rests. “It’s much better when you slice it freshly by hand,” Schinner-Krendl explains. Behind the counter are Kasses’ crunchy bread loafs arranged in picturesque baskets, while the display counter is filled with smoked fish from Freiner Biofisch, Hansi Bauer’s prosciutto coppa and spicy cheese from the Hilkater dairy in Bregenzerwald. The indoor tables in the rear grant a glimpse into the small open kitchen, while their outdoor seating is perfect for watching the hustle and bustle of the market, especially in the summer.

Market Values

Food is served throughout the day, starting with their small, but popular, breakfast selection of classics like Birchermüsli, egg dishes and pastries. To gain an overview, try the “big breakfast” – it proves that simple trumps elaborate as long as the ingredients are superb. Only the fruit salad, a tiny glass of chopped fruit, could do with an upgrade.

Equally straightforward, yet delectable, are their Brettljause (cheese, cold cuts and homemade spreads) and open-face sandwiches like Schnittlauch (butter and chives) or Grammelschmalz (lard and pork cracklings). My favorite, however, is the Ofenzitrone – An oven-roasted lemon stuffed with feta and tomatoes. I have a soft spot for all things gratinated, and the combination of grilled cheese and lemon fused to sweet and creamy perfection… heavenly!

In addition, they also have daily dishes like beetroot risotto, wagyu cheeseburgers and baked potatoes as well as seasonal specials – usually high-quality takes on traditional favorites like roast goose or Weisswurst (quite passable, even for my native Bavarian standards).

As befits a Heuriger, Heu und Gabel also boasts an extensive selection of regional wines, with the focus on natural, biodynamic cultivation. A nice idea: The Kostquartett, a tasting selection of four different wines to get you started.

To set the evening mood, they occasionally host events – pandemic willing – like wine tastings, small concerts and DJs during aperitivo hour, befitting the cozy, unpretentious attitude of the market. With its friendly staff and family atmosphere, where baby cribs are wedged between tables (the owners have two kids) and granddad helps out on busy days, Heu und Gabel stands out among the new arrivals in Meidling, inviting you to linger with gourmet fare hitherto unavailable this far from the city center.

The other day, we went there for brunch. At half past two, we were still sitting there – two glasses of wine in front of us.

Heu und Gabel

12., Meidlinger Markt

Tue-Fri 8:00-20:00

Sat 8:00-16:00

0664 852 1426

heuundgabel.at

Covid on January 3-9 | Austrian Ministries Report 10,291 New Infections

Find here the daily COVID-19 updates for Austria, with everything you need to know about the coronavirus in Austria, brought to you by the Metropole team. Scroll down!

Or check out the sidebar or these quick links for details about:

Here is a wrap-up of the current developments regarding the coronavirus in Austria.

Week 1

January 9

News from Austria

  • Austrian ministries reported 10,291 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day-incidence stands at 529.4 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
    • The value is highest in Salzburg (1,132.7) and lowest in Styria (275.8).
    • 13,848 people so far have died from COVID-19 in Austria.
    • Currently, 911 people are hospitalised due to a COVID-19 infection.
    • 262 people currently require intensive care.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total69,75791126213,848
Daily change+7,546-9-9+4
In percent+12.1%-1%-3.3%+0%
Daily TestsRecoveredTested Positive
Total524,4121,255,816 1,339,421
Daily change-9,615+2,741 +10,291
In percent-1.8%+0.2% +0.8%
Vaccinations
Total vaccine jabs given16,734,082
– change since Friday+46,834
Number of people who got at least their 1st vaccine jab6,649,281
– in percentage of the population74.44%
– in percentage of the eligible population (aged 5+)78.24%
People fully immunized (valid vaccination certificate)6,323,508
– in percentage of the population70.79%
– in percentage of the eligible population (aged 5+)74.40%
Number of people who got the booster shot3,850,039
– in percentage of the population43.2%

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 09, 2021

Books – Angus Robertson Explores Diplomatic History in Vienna: The International Capital

To say that Angus Robertson knows Vienna well would be an understatement. Bilingual thanks to his German mother and Scottish father, he moved to Vienna in 1991 as a journalist for the Austrian public broadcaster, ORF, and returned as Austrian correspondent for the BBC, before spending two decades as a British MP for the Scottish National Party, chairing the Austrian All-Party Group in the British Parliament.

So he comes exceptionally well prepared for his new book, Vienna: The International Capital, an in-depth look at the city’s critical and changing role at the forefront of Western politics over the last two millennia.

Robertson takes the reader from its beginnings as a Roman settlement, Vindobona and nearby Carnuntum as the aging Marcus Aurelius worked on his Meditations, to the present day as a diplomatic hub, marveling at the capital’s ability to remain central in world-shaping events.

While Vienna’s proud cultural legacy is well-known, Robertson’s history focuses instead on the works and words of leaders, diplomats and ambassadors and the military strategies of their eras. Robertson’s lens is a wide one, often taking in the changing politics across Europe, and Austria’s influence in the world – all part of the story of how the city came to be what it is.

In this history, the cultural and political intersect, each a backdrop for the other, well illustrated in his detailing of the 20 years of war with Napoleon, whose capture of Vienna in 1805 saw him interrupt the opening performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio. Or later, with Admiral Nelson’s return through Vienna from his victory against Napoleon in the Battle of the Nile, in time to attend a performance of the Te Deum of Haydn’s Mass for Troubled Times. But in Robertson’s telling, it is the political that takes center stage.

Dances and entertainments were an integral part of the political machinations during the 1815 Congress of Vienna, which established the city’s reputation as a diplomatic hub. (c)Wikicommons

Diplomacy Between Dances

There is much on the diplomatic relations between nations and empires that held the intricate balances of power across Europe and beyond, and Vienna’s key position within that, giving it center stage for the Congress in 1815. A fascinating microcosm of diplomatic and haute bourgeois social life, Robertson deems the congress central to the development of Vienna as we know it today. “At the heart of the book is the idea that Vienna is home to modern diplomacy,” he said in a recent interview, “— its rules first codified and agreed at the Congress of Vienna.”

Robertson has drawn from a vast array of sources, ranging from Count August de La Garde-Chambonas to Austrian writer and painter Ludovika Gräfin Thürheim, detailing everything from the delegates’ accommodations to the banquet menu. Painting the picture of what he calls ‘The Glorious Moment,’ Robertson notes that “the perception of diplomacy to this day invokes dances, ballrooms and high society celebrations, images which all stem from the Vienna Congress.”

The Metternich System

With so many nations in close quarters, espionage was rife, and it’s within this environment that Klemens von Metternich emerges. One of the key diplomatic figures in the book, Metternich “plays an oversized role in both domestic Austrian and international European affairs,” from the Congress to the revolutions of 1848. Rising from foreign minister to chancellor, Metternich administered an era of extreme surveillance, wrote contemporary Irish diarist Martha Wilmot. “I suppose we never cough, sneeze, nor turn a child into the nursery to blow its nose without the events being reported to the government!”

With a firm lid on opposition at home, Robertson shows Metternich’s expertise in foreign affairs, securing Vienna’s status as an international capital throughout the 19th Century. In regular gatherings that became known as ‘The Metternich System,’ the prince “aimed at maintaining the balance of power” and resolving disputes between European nations, resulting in a century of stability that continued until shortly before the First World War.

Anti-Semitism is a recurring theme: Robertson cites mid-17th Century accounts by William Crowne and Johann Sebastian Müller of Jewish ghettos outside the city walls on the far side of the Danube (now the Danube Canal), the site where only a decade later, Leopold I would expel the Jews from Vienna, renaming the area Leopoldstadt.

Later, during the co-regency in her waning years of Empress Maria Theresa and her son Joseph II, Robertson notes the conflict between Joseph’s “religious toleration,” and the traditional Habsburg role as defender of Catholicism, exacerbated by the Empress’s marked “intolerance towards Protestants and Jews in particular.”

Anti-Semitism continues in the chapter on fin de siècle Vienna, in particular its spread “by two of the leading politicians of the age: Georg Schönerer and Karl Lueger.” He cites Frederic Morton’s late 19th Century history A Nervous Splendor, which ends ominously with the birth of Adolf Hitler in Upper Austria – set amongst the pivotal political decisions in Eastern European territories and the growing power of Prussia.

Rebuilding With Bridges

After regaining full sovereignty in 1955, Austria set about rebuilding, gradually emerging as the international capital Robertson views it as today. As part of the negotiating team for the State Treaty, later chancellor Bruno Kreisky is credited as one of its central architects, “pursuing an ambitious foreign policy agenda for Austria as a bridge-builder between East and West, and Vienna as the preeminent location for international organizations. His impact is still felt today.”

It’s a feature of the book that shows Austria and Vienna flourishing best through peaceful means, arguing the Habsburg Empire grew largely thanks to marriages rather than battles: “Let others wage war, but thou, O happy Austria, marry; for those kingdoms which Mars gives to others, Venus gives to thee.” Later, Robertson quotes English traveler John Morritt’s observations at the time of the Congress, illustrating Vienna’s enduring tendency to diversity, saying: “There is no town where languages are so much understood.”

Clearly a great admirer of Vienna, Robertson has recently cited Austria in his campaigns for an independent Scotland, saying that the nation should follow its lead, and also become “a bridge-builder for Europe,” echoing the words of the now-disgraced former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose quote heads up the book’s final chapter, ‘Diplomatic Capital.’

Robertson’s enthusiasm for his subject carries across in the breadth of accounts and the fine detail throughout. An impressive work of research, the book is a comprehensive history that in its best moments, manages to find fresh nuance in an already storied city.

Angus Robertson, Vienna: The International Capital, Birlinn General, October 2021, pp 464, €30.83

Careful! Our Eyes are Vulnerable

Wave after wave of COVID-19, and we’re still unable to defend against widespread community infection, even worse with the new omicron variant.

Maybe we’re missing something.

We’re all aware by now that COVID-19 spreads through inhalation of respiratory droplets while close to infected people in crowded and poorly ventilated environments. We also know that we can self-infect by rubbing and touching our eyes, noses, and mouths with SARS-CoV-2-contaminated hands. While inhaling virus-containing droplets is the most important route of infection, we know less about contaminated respiratory and airborne droplets entering through our eyes.

Eyes as a route of viral infection

The Spanish flu of 1918 illustrated that the eyes are a route of infection, when doctors  found that protecting the whole face was more effective than just covering the nose and mouth (Maxcy KF The transmission of infection through the eye. JAMA. 1919; 72: 636-639). There is also precedence, as other viruses like adenoviruses, influenza, and the herpes simplex virus infect through the eyes.

So what about COVID-19? In recent studies, researchers have observed reduced COVID-19 spread in healthcare workers wearing goggles or face shields in addition to masks, gloves, and gowns.

How viruses enter the body through the eyes

The eye has a tear film made up of a lipid or oily layer, an aqueous or watery layer, and a mucus layer, which keeps the eye moist and acts as an environmental and immune barrier. The tears wash out foreign materials and contain substances that prevent invasion and infection by microbes. However, sometimes, the lipophilic (lipid-loving) and electrostatic properties of the conjunctiva allow materials and microorganisms to stick to the eye, making it easier for them to enter the body.

The role of COVID-19 spread via the eyes is controversial because we don’t know the extent of spread via the eyes yet, and eye infections in people with COVID-19 are infrequent, suggesting a minor role. However, there is evidence for key features of the eye that make it an easy target.

Firstly, the conjunctiva and cornea have angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors, which bind SARS-CoV-2 and enable its entry into our cells. Secondly, the conjunctiva produces ‘transmembrane serine protease 2’ (TMPRSS2), an enzyme that breaks down and activates viral envelope glycoproteins of SARS-CoV-2 and others, such as Influenza, and MERS, further facilitating cell entry.

Once in the eyes, the virus can migrate to the nose via the tear ducts and potentially spread into the lungs. There is also some speculation that the virus may persist in tears that could become a contamination source.

Eye protection – an extra layer

Should we protect our eyes especially now that there is a new, more contagious variant? Why not – it’s pretty easy to do, and it would be a physical barrier protecting against contaminated droplets through sneezes, coughs and breathing.

Healthcare workers and caretakers should wear eye protection when looking after COVID-19 patients to reduce the transmission risk. But, there are some key issues to consider for the rest of us.

Wearing glasses as a mechanical barrier inhibits eye rubbing and touching. People who wear glasses touch their eyes less than those who don’t. But just wearing a pair of glasses or a face shield may not be enough, as they don’t protect against air currents coming in around the edges. Goggles are more secure, with sealed edges that reduce most air from reaching the eye. But they fog up, obstruct vision, and are uncomfortable for long periods. Also, when worn together with masks, they may interfere with communication and facial recognition. And if they’re irritating, people will take them off, wear them incorrectly, or put them on and off with unwashed hands, making them less effective.

To date, public health agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) haven’t recommended eye protection for the general public. However, they do advise healthcare workers to wear goggles or face shields.

Here are some tips to avoid eye contamination

The most crucial strategy is social distancing, careful hand-washing or sanitizing, and not touching your eyes. But touching and rubbing our eyes is such an automatic habit that it’s often hard even to notice that you’re doing it. So, there are other things that you can do:

  • Avoid coming in close contact with people who are sick.
  • Keep your distance in general.
  • Try not to rub your eyes – particularly when you’re COVID-19-positive – use a tissue and be sure to immediately throw it out.
  • If you wear contact lenses, use good lens hygiene and consider switching back to  glasses as contact lens wearers touch their eyes more often;
  • Be sure to use clean hands when removing, replacing, or adjusting glasses or goggles;
  • Use a tissue instead of your finger to scratch, touch or rub your eye, or adjust your glasses.
  • Wash your hands before and after administering eye drops.
  • If you have dry eyes, use moisturizing eye drops to reduce the tendency to rub them.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses with or without corrective lenses in crowded and poorly ventilated areas.
  • Wear glasses so that they are on the top edge of your mask to avoid fogging.
  • Wear eye goggles, visors, and face shields, together with your face mask, if you’re looking after someone with COVID-19 or have close contact with people as opticians, ophthalmologists, beauticians, or work in a hair salon.

Wearing eye protection can help and certainly won’t hurt. So why not find some iconic glasses like Iris Apfel and Elton John and start a trend?

Mapping Austria’s Media Landscape

By Florian Kappelsberger

In a country of 8.9 million, Austria’s media landscape is naturally smaller than its counterparts in Germany or the United States. But it is dense for its size and quite complex – a labyrinth of political trenches, personal allegiances and the pitfalls of public funding. In the last few years alone, Austrian media found themselves again and again at the centre of nation-wide scandals and international attention, from the Ibiza tapes to ongoing investigations surrounding former chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP).

For the uninitiated, it can be difficult to grasp the variety of newspapers, magazines and online outlets, as well as the outsized role of the Boulevardpresse. Is the Alpine republic really a “tabloid democracy”, as one pundit quipped? What drives the government-sponsored advertising? And how are the country’s media evolving right now?

Austria’s press is commonly divided into two categories: Qualitätsmedien (i.e. quality media) and the tabloids. Among the former, the most widely read national dailies are Kurier, the centre-right Die Presse and the liberal Der Standard, immediately recognisable by its salmon-coloured paper. Furthermore, both the Viennese weekly Falter and the news magazine Profil are known for their investigative research revealing political misconduct and corruption, most recently in the Wolf/Schmid affair.

Looking at the numbers, however, the media landscape is dominated by the tabloid press. The Kronen Zeitung remains the country’s most popular newspaper with a print circulation of 696,947 copies – roughly five times as much as the most widely read quality paper, Kurier. According to a recent study, Krone even reaches 25% of Austria’s population in total. It is rivalled by the free daily Heute, which has a larger circulation in Vienna, as well as the tabloid Österreich. These papers have considerable influence on public opinion, leading Innsbruck political scientist Fritz Plasser to describe the Second Republic as a “tabloid democracy“.

The economic dominance of these few heavyweights makes it nearly impossible for smaller publications to establish themselves in Austria. Nonetheless, recent years have seen the emergence of young and dynamic media outlets such as the magazine biber, the investigative platform Dossier or – not to forget – Metropole.

A complex system of media funding

Another peculiarity of Austrian media is its reliance on public funding, in the form of either general subsidies or sponsored ads. While the former is tightly regulated, the latter remains largely obscure. This has sometimes resulted in a tacit quid pro quo: The government books advertisements with selected newspapers, expecting benevolent press coverage in return. The Presseclub Concordia, an independent association of Austrian journalists, has criticised this practice as “non-transparent, hostile to quality [journalism] and susceptible to corruption”.

Developed by chancellor Werner Faymann (SPÖ), this system was perfected under Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP): While subsidies to the press were cut to €8.7 million, government spending on advertisements has reached an all-time high of €47.3 million. In an ongoing investigation, Kurz’s circle is suspected of funnelling tax payers’ money to the tabloid Österreich in exchange for rigged polls and glowing coverage. These revelations saw public trust plummet in the past months, with 57% percent of respondents thinking that most or all private media are venal.

Meanwhile, the entire industry is reeling under the impact of the pandemic. Independent outlets have been hit particularly hard, losing crucial advertising revenues from businesses under pressure from successive lockdowns. The government crisis support has largely favoured tabloids such as Krone or Heute based on pre-pandemic circulation, to the disadvantage of the quality press… Meanwhile, magazines and online media have been by-passed altogether.

Partisan media

At the same time, Austria is witnessing a revival of openly partisan media. In February, the ÖVP’s parliamentary group launched the online outlet Zur Sache, combining positive coverage of the turquoise-led coalition with harsh criticism of the opposition. This model of owned media has been pioneered by the SPÖ since 2016 with its blog Kontrast as well as by the FPÖ site Unzensuriert. In all of these cases, the immediate party affiliation remains unmentioned on the website or social media presence, at least at first sight.

In a similar vein, a new brand of online tabloid media with clear political allegiances has developed. In the summer of 2020, former deputy Peter Pilz presented his platform ZackZack, conceived as a leftist response to the right-wing populism of Krone. Even more recently, Richard Schmitt and Eva Schütz introduced the digital outlet exxpress – a blend of conservative columns, outraged headlines and scathing attacks on the (supposed) woke zeitgeist.

The founders assert neutrality, but their personal ties leave room for doubt: Schütz herself was a middle level civil servant in the ÖVP-led Ministry of Finances, while her husband is a major donor to the Volkspartei. Chief editor Schmitt, on the other hand, is known for his cordial ties to HC Strache and the far-right FPÖ, which caused him to lose his position at Krone

Amidst growing polarisation, economic fragility and the fallout of several scandals, opposition parties are increasingly vocal in calling for a radical reform of the public funding process. Fritz Hausjell, professor of media history at the University of Vienna, argues in favour of limiting public advertisements to €10 million per year while drastically increasing subsidies. If this were done, he told der Standard, “[the issue of] illegitimate control over politically motivated press coverage will practically resolve itself.”

As the turquoise-green coalition has yet to respond to these urgent questions, it remains to be seen how Austria’s media system will emerge from the unprecedented crisis of the pandemic.


Logos: © Kurier, Die Presse, der Standard, Falter, profil, Heute, Kronen Zeitung, Österreich; biber, Dossier, Metropole, Datum; ZackZack, Kontrast, zur Sache, exxpress, unzensuriert

Not So Silent Night for ÖVP, Engulfed in Another Corruption Scandal

By Florian Kappelsberger

Another week, another scandal in Austrian politics. On Monday, Vienna’s Public Prosecutor for Corruption and Financial Affairs (WKStA) raided three houses in yet another suspected case involving Thomas Schmid, former general secretary in the ÖVP-led Ministry of Finances, and the prominent manager Siegfried Wolf. As Falter reported, Schmid is under investigation for supposedly using his influence to waive almost €630,000 of tax liabilities in Wolf’s favour.

But let’s start at the very beginning. In 2016, the Viennese tax authorities informed manager and investor Siegfried Wolf that he was to pay seven million euros in tax arrears as well as €629,941 in penalty interest. Apparently, he had not paid appropriate taxes on some income from a position in Switzerland. Wolf, known for having close ties to Sebastian Kurz’ inner circle, protested and demanded a deferral of the penalty interest payment. The technical supervision of the Ministry of Finances, however, refused categorically.

Incriminating chat messages, once again

As documented by chat messages that have been analysed by the news magazine profil, Wolf now contacted prominent figures of the ÖVP-led Ministry of Finances. Among them: Thomas Schmid, a close associate of Sebastian Kurz and the ministry’s general secretary at the time. (Schmid is also under investigation for corruption because of his alleged role in the recent tabloid scandal, and happens to find himself at the centre of another affair surrounding his later appointment as director of the state-owned holding company ÖBAG.)

In this particular case, Schmid instructed an employee to intervene in Wolf’s favour, texting: “Don’t forget – you are working in an ÖVP cabinet!! You are a whore for the rich!”

Afterwards, Schmid supposedly instructed an official at the Viennese tax authority to accept a debt remission; in exchange, she would be rewarded with a promotion. As evidenced by various chat messages, said official even exchanged cordial messages with Siegfried Wolf and met the investor at one point to negotiate her reward…while entrusted with his pending case.

Thus, in July 2018, the Viennese tax office reduced Wolf’s debt by €629,941 – explicitly overriding the authority of the technical supervision. These irregularities were rediscovered during a routine audit at the Viennese tax office in the spring of 2019, which ultimately led to the investigations and the raids conducted by the WKStA on Monday.

An embattled Volkspartei

After being reported by Falter on Monday, this affair has once again caused widespread outrage. Christian Deutsch, federal chairman of the SPÖ, accused the governing ÖVP of corruptability and called upon the chancellor to break his silence: “Nehammer must take an unequivocal stand on the newly emerged chat messages and ensure full transparency as well as consequences,” Deutsch told ORF. Thomas Schmid has refused to comment until now, while Siegfried Wolf denied all allegations.

Arriving just before the holidays, this is only another straw in a series of scandals that have shaken the ÖVP within the past weeks – the dizzying corruption affair surrounding former chancellor Kurz, a national controversy over the party’s stance on Austrofascism and accusations of antisemitism against the newly sworn-in Minister of the Interior.

All of this has inevitably taken a political toll: Compared to their phenomenal result of 37% in the election of 2019, the People’s Party has lost more than 10 percent in recent polls. While the ÖVP has dominated Austria’s political landscape in the past four years, a central-left coalition between SPÖ, Greens and the liberal Neos is currently the most popular option among voters.

More importantly, the seemingly endless line of corruption cases involving prominent politicians gravely endangers Austrian democracy. As a survey has shown, these have had a considerable impact in undermining public trust in politics and the state.

But in the long term, this discontent might have the potential to bring about lasting change: Exasperated by these troubling revelations about Austria’s political culture, more than 80,000 people have signed a public petition calling for stricter laws in the fight against corruption. What a Christmas present that would be.

Croatian Business Minds

The Budims – Your Denimdealer No.1

If you are looking for the perfect fit you might want to visit Markus and Magdalena Budim – a Viennese couple with Croatian roots – at their denim store in the Raimundhof on Mariahilferstraße 45. Founded three years ago, the Budims is “a fancy place of denim, quality and customer service,” say the owners. This is what it looks like when you turn your passion into your profession. 

Honest advice and a cozy ambience are guaranteed, say devotees of the shop they rank as “denim dealer No.1”. Adopting the American motto that the “customer is king/queen” they have added a book-your-own shopping appointment, at no charge, when one of the shop owners will offer a private consultation for you and you alone. 

But the Budim’s principle goal is to bring quality denim back into the well-deserved limelight. Their shelves are filled with jeans in various fits, washes, sizes and lengths from the global denim brands Denham (premium jeans), G-Star Raw (an innovation expert) and Kings of Indigo (pioneers in sustainability). New to the Budim family is a Croatian brand called Evio Denim with a focus on raw denim and even more brands are to follow. 

Honored internationally, “The Budims” made it among the TOP 100 most influential companies in the denim industry world wide over the last 15 years by the prestigious WeAr magazine. 

Homepage: https://thebudims.com/

Instagram: thebudims

Das Vivet – a coffee bar and eatery that time forgot 

What better than to feel at home while not actually being at home!  That’s the vision behind Das Vivet, an idea two restauranteurs with Croatian roots cooked up one tipsy night in Berlin. A month later Nikola Senjić and Blazenko Jurković – two seasoned gastronomes living in Vienna – found just the place to realize their concept: At Westbahnstraße 21 in the 7th district. And while their idea for “Das Vivet” might have been spontaneous, within a year, they had proven that nothing about their work is left to chance. 

Starting with the name – which means “he/she/it shall live” – this is a place where the name reflects the aim. In Das Vivet you can live your best life around the vision of a cozy living room, and forget time! 

Nikola Senjić and Blazenko Jurković

For one thing, there is no clock in the interior the duo designed themselves. It’s all good vibes and great music. And then there’s the menu – a variation of delicious and exceptional cuisine and drinks, not only the best ingredients, but also vegan and gluten free foods, and a phenomenal breakfast, which means they are usually booked for brunch. 

Still to come: International live acts.  So stay tuned…

Homepage: https://www.dasvivet.at/

Instagram: dasvivet

Delikroat – A little Croatia in the heart of Vienna 

When your next vacation is too far away and you miss the tastes and smells of mediterranean delicacies, visit Mario Harapin’s Delikroat, a food emporium full of Croatian specialties at Neubaugasse 60. 

Arriving in Vienna seven years ago, Harapin immediately recognized the lack of quality food from home. He saw an opportunity, at first through a market stand, and since 2016 inside the walls of his own shop. 

After working in Croatian food service for 15 years, he works to guarantee the best selection the country has to offer. From olive oil and top wines to cheese, truffles, or prosciutto, each product is carefully selected from Croatian producers that Mario knows personally and whose methods he knows first hand.  Most products are handmade in small quantities by regional producers and without preservatives or additives. 

Mario Harapin’s Delikroat, a food emporium full of Croatian specialties at Neubaugasse 60.

The most beautiful thing about his job, he says, is that he never loses the connection to his homeland – Something you feel from the moment you enter Delikroat.  This is how Croatia really tastes. 

Homepage: https://delikro.at/

Instagram: delikroat

Three Croatian Talents on the Austrian Arts Scene

FRESHMAKER /MARIO SKAKALO/

HIP-HOP AND POP PRODUCER

When asked what song would best describe Mario Skakalo’s parents’ journey to Vienna, he answered with: “Super(wo)men!”. He was a teenager, when his mother came to Austria from Kiseljak (BiH), and his father from Nova Gradiška. Love resulted in the birth of three boys, one of whom is Mario, now a successful hip-hop music producer.

Growing up in the 15th district, he was inspired by German rap goading him to produce his own beats. His first release was in 2008 on the album Gastarbeiterhilfe, by Croatian-Austrian hip hop musician Kid Pex. After that he worked with the German rapper Kollegah on the mixtape “Hoodtape Volume 1”. A few years later, he had gold and platinum in his collection and works with other big rap names like Farid Bang, Kontra K, Chakuza, Dame or Jala Brat. 

Mario – aka Freshmaker – lived surrounded by a mix of cultures, and celebrated all of Croatia’s important sport events in Vienna: “I’m speechless every time I see which legends come from this beautiful little country”. Nevertheless, he is not that much into traditional Croatian music. “But even that can be felt after a few Rakijas,” he jokes. 

The founder of NXT LVL Studios Vienna is proud of his origins and highlights a difference to the Austrians: “With the Balkans, everything is a little more relaxed, whether it’s a dismissal at work or a parking ticket, according to the principle: ‘Idemo dalje!’ ” –  “Keep going!” 

Equipped with such a fighting spirit the four albums “Checkpoint”, “Kodeks”, “Fusion” and “No Limit” are just the beginning of what we will hear from this talented musician. 

DAVID SLOMO

SINGER-SONGWRITER & BLOGGER

For ten years, David Slomo tried to gain a foothold in the Austrian music scene. His songs got unprecidented negative responses; he wanted to quit music. One radio station had told him that they had never received such bad feedback on a song as on one of his. Then came Mathea in 2018 and his life changed completely.

With the singer from Salzburg (Song “2x”), he reached number one in the Austrian charts as well as gold and platinum. Since then, he has had a total of seven gold records to his name. In addition to Mathea, the 29-year-old now also works with German Singer Mark Forster and the  up and coming Austrian artist “Ness”, among others.

Born in Zagreb towards the end of the Yugoslav war, Slomo’s father left the family before he was born and his mother decided to move to Vienna after giving birth to her son, leaving him with his grandparents. Even though it was anything but easy, he now says, he was given everything by his family,.

At the age of six he left his Croatian home from one day to the next and found a new one with Vienna. Soon after, he had to start school. The early days were not easy: “No friends, you don’t know the language – it was very hard for me. I was really ostracized.“

In the meantime, the Donaustadt native feels like a son of Vienna, although he has also studied the Croatian language: “At every European Championship or World Cup I wear the red-and-white-chequered jersey, but in fact I am Viennese. This is where I had my school years, my first friendships, my first love, heartbreak – …my first problem with the law,” he jokes.

When not writing songs Slomo does interviews for the daily mass-market tabloid Heute in the Balkan blog “Hajde!”, which helps give the Balkans in Vienna a face: “I wanted to show that we belong to Austria, to give us a voice and make us visible.“

MARIANNE PUŠIĆ

ACTRESS AND PRESENTER

Marianne Pušić is a multi talent among the young Croatians living in the Austrian capital. Not only a trained actress, she is also a presenter and a speaker. Moreover, she can sing chansons, knows Bollywood dance and even does stunt fighting.

Born in Vienna in 1996, her father’s family came here from Croatia in the early 1980s. On a tripi home, he met her mother by chance in Ladimirevci, a place close to Osijek, and a few years later she came to Austria out of love. The artist is as proud of her family, who didn’t have it easy either.

But though born here, Pušić had quite a strong Croatian accent until well into her teens. So she had to practise a lot and decided on drama school at the age of 19. She played different roles, among others in the Austrian classic Jedermann. Pušić worked at the Viennese theatres “MoKi” and “Theater im Paradiesgarten” too. 

Today she is also a presenter at YUPLANET, an up-and-coming Balkan TV station in Vienna. The moderation business was something she “slipped into” during the pandemic, she says, when the theatres were closed.  

Today, she visits Croatia two or three times a year, even though she has lost some of her connection to the Croatian community in the last few years. Still  Pušić has a special place in her heart for Croatia, and hopes one day to act in a Croatian film. 

Maybe there are one or two directors who will read this…

Iran Allows Reinstatement of IAEA Surveillance Cameras

“This whole operation was conceived as a bridge towards something.” With these words, Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), announced a partial agreement struck with the Islamic Republic of Iran that will allow the agency to reinstall surveillance cameras at the Karaj facility. Whether the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 can be salvaged overall remains up in the air.

Before the end of this year, the IAEA will be able to replace the monitoring cameras that had mysteriously been removed from a centrifuge-parts workshop in the Iranian city of Karaj in February. Iran had framed this as an act of sabotage perpetrated by Israeli intelligence, while the IAEA was since unable to access the site. After recent negotiations ended without result, the facility has remained without international supervision for more than ten months.

As the UK-based Guardian reported, “Some Israeli defence and intelligence officials have alleged that Iran has used the period of shutting out the IAEA since June to smuggle portions of its 60%-enriched uranium to clandestine sites either to proceed covertly toward a nuclear weapon or to preserve the option to do so.”

The IAEA is the world’s largest nuclear watchdog, founded in 1957 and based in Vienna. As a branch of the United Nations, its assists member states all over the globe in developing nuclear energy for civilian purposes and upholding safety standards. At the same time, the agency has the diplomatic mission of verifying that this technology is not diverted for military ends.

After a nuclear deal was reached between Iran and the P5+1 (i.e. the US, Russia, China, France, the UK and Germany) in 2015, the IAEA was tasked with monitoring Iran’s compliance. In 2018, however, US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and issued sanctions against Iran, to which the latter responded by further enriching uranium – in violation of the the deal’s boundaries. Ongoing negotiations in Vienna to revive the deal were unsuccessful until now.

Many open questions remain

The new partial agreement has some caveats and potential pitfalls: While the IAEA is allowed to reinstall the cameras, they will not have access to the footage until the nuclear deal is restored. According to Grossi, this compromise was struck in the assumption that a larger agreement would soon be found, allowing the agency to fully resume its monitoring operations in Iran. The Islamic Republic, however, has declared that it will only agree to such a revival once the economic sanctions against the country are lifted.

Grossi himself refrained from commenting on the thorny question of sanctions, emphasising the political neutrality of the IAEA. “I’m not a friend or a foe – I’m an inspector,” he asserted. Regarding the Karaj incident, however, he expressed doubts that the camera footage had simply vanished, as Iran claims. This issue remains unaddressed in the partial agreement, as Grossi emphasised the immediate urgency of restoring visual monitoring of the Iranian facilities.

© Fiorda Llukmani / IAEA

Affirming the agency’s neutrality

It was also the first time that the IAEA presented a sample of the camera type used to supervise nuclear sites all over the world. Grossi emphasised that the cameras were both physically sealed and digitally encrypted, making any tampering impossible. This was seemingly aimed at countering recent insinuations by Iran that the IAEA cameras could have been hacked to spy on the facilities or even to cause the incident at Karaj. Upon questioning, Grossi qualified the claims as “absurd” and affirmed the agency’s neutrality.

While the partial agreement may not be the last word in this matter, it may be a step toward restoring diplomatic trust and, ultimately, reviving the nuclear deal. “I sincerely hope,” director Grossi said, “that we can continue our constructive discussions to also address and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues in Iran.”

The Ongoing Controversy Over Austrofascism, Explained

Not long after designated chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) presented a reshuffle of his cabinet on December 3, a national controversy broke loose. At the heart of the outrage: a small museum dedicated to Engelbert Dollfuß in Texingtal, Lower Austria. Gerhard Karner (ÖVP), who succeeds Nehammer as Minister of the Interior, is under fire for not distancing himself from this project although he is (also) mayor of the town. This quarrel has, in turn, led to a larger debate on public memory, partisan historiography and the legacy of Austrofascism.

Especially for internationals and those who are not versed in Austria’s complex history, the issues at stake in this debate may be difficult to grasp at first. Who is Dollfuß, and why is his memory still so contentious?

The museum dedicated to Engelbert Dollfuß in his native town of Texingtal, recorded in 2009 (CC).

The forgotten history of a rival fascism

Engelbert Dollfuß was born in 1892 to a peasant family near Texingtal. Promoted from a simple volunteer to lieutenant during World War I, he rose through the ranks of the Peasants’ Union as well as the Christian Social Party after the war. In May 1932, he was appointed chancellor of a right-wing government composed of the of Catholic CS, the agrarian Landbund and the nationalist Heimwehr paramilitary.

As the young republic was in crisis, Dollfuß violently dissolved the parliament to create an authoritarian Ständestaat (“corporate state”), inspired by the fascist and corporatist systems in Italy, Portual and Germany. Socialist resistance to this coup was brutally repressed by the regime; political opponents were placed in internment camps or summarily executed.

At the same time, this state found itself threatened by the expansionism of Hitler’s Germany as well as by the ambitions of the National-Socialist movement within Austria. Dollfuß reacted by accentuating its authoritarian character and sought an alliance with Mussolini; historians today qualify this phenomenon as a Konkurrenzfaschismus (“competing fascism”). In July 1934, Dollfuß was shot during a failed coup by the Austrian Nazi Party. He was succeeded by Kurt Schuschnigg, who upheld the regime until Austria’s Anschluss in 1938.

After 1945, Dollfuß was widely rehabilitated as a martyr. While post-war Austria refused to confront its implication in the crimes of the Reich, the assassinated chancellor served as a consensual symbol of national resistance to Nazism. The brutal and authoritarian nature of the Ständestaat was largely ignored. Simultaneously, conservative politicians and intellectuals took great pains to differentiate this regime from its Italian and German counterparts, refusing the label ‘Austrofascism’ as partisan and ideologically charged.

A tenacious personality cult

In 1998, the town of Texingtal inaugurated a museum in the house where Dollfuß had been born, presenting a collection of photos, busts and other memorabilia. The historian Lucile Dreidemy asserted that the exposition paints Dollfuß as a patriotic martyr. Gerhard Karner, in turn, who has served as mayor of Texingtal since 2015, defended the museum as offering a neutral assessment. Yet, a stone plaque displayed at its entry proclaims a less-than-critical perspective: “Dedicated to the great chancellor and renewer of Austria”.

This is not the only example of a certain personality cult enduring well into the 21st century. Since 1945, the assassinated dictator had been commemorated every year with a service celebrated in the chapel of Austria’s chancellery. This tradition was upheld by politicians of all parties since the end of the war – until chancellor Werner Faymann (SPÖ) put an end to it in 2010, drawing sharp criticism from his coalition partners in the ÖVP. In 2016, presidential candidate Andreas Khol (ÖVP) praised Dollfuß as a great patriot while conceding that he was not much of a democrat and had come to power via a coup. (His successor Sebastian Kurz, by contrast, had earlier pronounced himself rather agnostic on this issue.)

Furthermore, the ÖVP honoured the authoritarian chancellor for decades with a portrait displayed at its headquarters in Vienna. After repeated criticism, the party finally removed the painting in 2017 and lent it to a museum. This act, however, was not necessarily symbolic of a critical confrontation with the authoritarian chancellor’s legacy; instead, the party’s executive committee attributed it to a shortage of space during the renovation of the parliament building. The portrait remains in the museum depot until today – an awkward compromise of silence and a textbook example of an österreichische Lösung (“Austrian solution”).

The portrait of Engelbert Dollfuß by the painter Tom von Dreger was displayed at the ÖVP party headquarters until 2017 (CC).

Criticism from all sides

With Karner’s presentation as minister the debate has once again flared up, focusing on the dubious museum in his home district. While the SPÖ and the liberal NEOS as well as the Austrian association of resistance fighters and victims of fascism protested his nomination, even the co-governing Green Party expressed concern. Their human rights spokesperson Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic demanded a statement from Karner: “The position on Austrofascism must always be clear, especially in the case of the Minister of the Interior,” she said via Twitter.

In his first official press conference on December 7, the newly confirmed chancellor Karl Nehammer intervened to assert that the ÖVP had an unequivocal stance regarding the Dollfuß regime which he called a “Kanzlerdiktatur” (chancellor’s dictatorship) – a recent term coined by conservative historians, carefully avoiding the putrid word fascism.

As the controversy refused to die down, Nehammer saw himself compelled to clarify his position: During a TV interview on Sunday, December 12, he condemned the anti-democratic character of the regime and its judicial murders as “intolerable” while also recalling Dollfuß’ assassination at the hands of Nazi putschists in July 1934. Upon questioning, he accepted qualifying Dollfuß as an Austrofascist, making him the first ÖVP party leader to do so. In the same breath, however, Nehammer referred to the historical context, notably emphasising the “great threat” of Austromarxism. Thus, in his words, Austrofascism and Austromarxism merely appear as two sides of the same coin, emanations of a violent and divided society.

The symptom of a larger issue

While Karner himself has not yet reacted to the controversy, the Ministry of the Interior has announced that the exposition will be revised in 2022. In the meantime, the debate has moved on, as Karner now finds himself accused of having used coded anti-semitic speech in the regional election campaign of 2008. Ultimately, it appears that the Texingtal museum is only one symptom of a larger issue – a widespread refusal to confront the country’s dark past.

Nehammer’s acceptance of the term “Austrofascism” is a considerable step, but it will (and can) not be the last word in this matter. To quote the chancellor, it is up to us to learn from history: “Democracy is stronger than any form of dictatorship.” In this spirit, all democratic parties – including, but not limited to the ÖVP – need to achieve something that goes well beyond lip service, whataboutism and other intellectual smoke grenades: a clear, unequivocal condemnation of those who, 87 years ago, drowned Austria’s first republic in blood.

Frustrations Explode Over COVID Measures

By Florian Kappelsberger

“Ich bin ungeimpft, ungeimpft, ungeimpft…” Some protestors joyously sang along to a current upbeat pop song by Björn Banane, blasting out from mobile speakers as they slowly marched down the Ringstraße. Known for Mallorca-style party anthems like Biergit or Bärbels Busen, the singer from Berlin is symptomatic of a curious musical niche that has emerged almost instantaneously around the heterogenous Covid protest movement, which has recently seen frustrations explode. On this Saturday, his aptly titled song Ungeimpft – “unvaccinated” – provided the soundtrack to the demonstration that crossed Vienna’s inner city, floating above a sea of red-white-red Austrian flags, conspiracy-theorist placards and wafts of incense.

More than 40,000 people from all over the country as well as abroad came together in the Austrian capital on Saturday, December 4, to protest the ongoing lockdown and the vaccine mandate planned for February. Thus, for the third successive weekend, Vienna witnessed a curious mélange in the crowds gathering on Heldenplatz and parading on the Ringstraße. The police, too, turned out in large numbers, in the end some 1,200 strong from the city and surrounding provinces.

The march was led by high-ranking members of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ), who had called for the demonstration. Party leader Herbert Kickl was, however, unable to attend, as he was in quarantine since testing positive for Covid-19. Thus it was that FPÖ deputy Dagmar Belakowitsch took the stage. The hospital intensive care units were overflowing, she admitted, but not with unvaccinated persons who had become seriously ill with Covid, as the government claimed, but with people suffering from “vaccine damage”. Upon questioning, Both Belakowitsch and the FPÖ refused to elaborate, provoking outrage in all other major parties. “This is not even fake news, those are straight-up lies,” SPÖ deputy Jörg Leichtfried commented in ORF2’s talkshow Im Zentrum.

Other notorious figures of the extreme right had also joined the march, figures such as the neo-Nazi Gottfried Küssel and Martin Sellner, leader of the Austrian Identitäre Bewegung. Their followers brandished Austrian flags (sometimes upside-down), placards denouncing an imagined ‘great replacement’ or symbols of the QAnon movement.

Violence and tear gas

But among the 40,000, there were many who offered a striking contrast to the militant nationalist minority: parents concerned for their children, fervent Christians, and esoteric believers, carrying drums and waving incense while calling for purity of mind and body. Some said they feared negative consequences of the vaccine, citing the absence of long-term studies. “For me, the risks of the side-effects are simply not worth taking,” one participant told the national broadcaster ORF. Fears, however, that have repeatedly been refuted by doctors and vaccine experts.

At the same time, a loose association of left-wing groups were on the march with a counter-protest titled “Against Nazis, the State and Capitalism”. Starting out at the Stephansplatz, the participants moved on to Schwedenplatz, setting up a stage and blocking traffic. There, speakers demanded unity and international cooperation in the struggle against what they branded as a fascist, anti-Semitic threat. “We are here to show: We want to fight this pandemic together, but with solidarity,” one participant told ORF. The police took great pains to keep right-wing activists separate from the counter-protesters, whose number was estimated by police at 1,500.

While the demonstration remained peaceful through the afternoon, towards the evening, the atmosphere became more tense. Protestors threw bottles and flares at the police, bathing the 19th century Gründerzeit façades in bright red light. Some broke through the barriers and clashed violently with law enforcement, that responded with tear gas.

At the end of the day, 621 demonstrators were charged, five arrested and two police officers wounded. Austria’s new chancellor, former interior minister Karl Nehammer, criticized the behaviour of certain demonstrators as “anti-democratic and lacking in solidarity“.

The spectre of a radicalized protest movement

It remains to be seen how this situation will evolve over the coming weeks. With only 67% of the population fully vaccinated against COVID, Austria has one of the lowest rates in all of western Europe. Although case numbers have fallen significantly since the imposition of a strict lockdown for all citizens on November 22, the incidence remains at the alarmingly high level of 535 with 5,663 new infections daily. Meanwhile, intensive care units in heavily hit regions such as Upper Austria and Salzburg are reaching the limits of their capacity, as ORF reported.

Chancellor Nehammer has confirmed that the nation-wide lockdown will end on December 12 for vaccinated people, but the restrictions will remain in place for the unvaccinated. At the same time, the government is preparing a vaccine mandate in force as of February 2022. A preliminary draft, analysed by ORF’s Zeit im Bild, proposes a fine of up to 600 euros every three months for people who refuse the vaccination.

It seems unlikely that either of these measures will smooth the waters among the heterogeneous group of roughly two million unvaccinated people in Austria, as the FPÖ and other far-right activists continue to exploit the growing tensions to undermine the turquoise-green coalition.

Word of the Week: Marie [maˈʁiː]

Noun. A popular Viennese slang term for cash, similar to the English “bread” or “dough.” It was famously used in the title of the 2018 episode Her mit der Marie! (Hand Over the Cash!) of the long-running German-Swiss-Austrian police procedural Tatort, which led many of our neighbors to wonder just who this “Marie” is.

In fact, the term derives from the iconic Maria-Theresien-Taler, a silver bullion coin first struck in 1741, bearing the portrait of its namesake, Empress Maria Theresia. Due to its purity and stringent quality control, it quickly became a preferred currency for international trade, circulating far beyond Habsburg lands; alongside the Spanish Dólar (whose name also derives from “Taler”) its popularity made it synonymous with money in many parts of the world, even influencing a young United States to take the name for its own currency.

The coin continued as a standard currency long after Maria Theresia’s reign and is still punched out by the Austrian mint today – with the date frozen at 1780, the year of her death. With over 380 million minted since it was first introduced, the face of the Empress could be found in wide circulation within Africa and the Middle East well after WWII. Benito Mussolini even demanded (and received) the original casts from Austria to bankroll his conquest of Ethiopia, as the locals didn’t trust Italian money.

The British Empire also acknowledged its popularity by striking their own Maria-Theresia-Talers in 1935, minting 18 million pieces in Mumbai alone to support their colonial economies in Africa and East Asia; the coin remains protected under the British Forgery and Counterfeiting Act to this day.

So wherever you are, dear readers, Marie (or the lack of her) matters.  Which gives a whole new slant on the old vocative, “Cherchez la femme!”

No matter how well you speak German, the Word Of The Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

The Word of the Week can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Spread the word!

Citizen of the World | Is National Identity Obsolete?

I was born in Vienna to Croatian parents who came from Bosnia. So, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when people had trouble placing me. “You can’t be Croatian, you’re Austrian!” says one. “But you’re not Croatian, because you come from Bosnia,” says another. And a third, “You’re certainly not Austrian with that name!” 

In my nearly three decades of existence, I have frequently been confronted with statements like these. So which nationality am I? How should I identify myself? Or rather, what is the correct term for people with a history like mine? 

Rewind to 1992, when my mother and father had their first – and only – child in Wien-Favoriten. Both had come from a village that today belongs to the so-called Brcko district in the northeast of Bosnia, as part of a Croatian Catholic community there. For this reason, they are often referred to as Croats or Bosnian Croats. I grew up bilingually in Vienna and have always been able to speak German and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian. And while it’s not fashionable to say this, I consider these languages the same. 

As a child, I thought of myself as Austrian. And although I had never been a victim of discrimination, per se, my Austrian friends categorized me as a foreigner, even though I didn’t see it that way myself. Later, in my teenage years, I became increasingly aware of my Balkan roots. I found friends from the Balkans, and it wasn’t long before I started going out to bars and pubs that played rock music and so-called “turbofolk” from Bosnia, Serbia, or Croatia. I tried to find a new identity. 

Neither here nor there

I discovered the switch had already taken place: I abruptly identified myself as a foreigner and was proud of it. 

But the next debacle was not long in coming: Was I Bosnian or Croatian? Whenever non-Yugoslavs asked where I was from, a convoluted explanation always followed, such as, “I am Austrian with Croatian roots from Bosnia.” Then came the puzzled looks. Soon, I noticed that all the “Yugo” kids born in Vienna faced similar experiences. And no matter how much they identified with their Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian roots, they remained, whether they liked it or not, children who grew up and went to school in Austria. 

The same was true in reverse – native Austrians often did not feel that the first generation born in Austria could call themselves “nationals.” So, we – the “nationality nomads” as I like to say – share the same fate. Faced with the Austrian and international community in the outside world, our Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian families were waiting for us at home, along with their cuisine and traditions. I realized that we represented a separate social group. 

On the one hand, we enjoyed the progressive and individualistic values of “Western” society in Austria, and on the other, we lived in a parallel world, where tradition, patriarchal family values, and to some extend religion, often played an essential role in many areas of life. These circumstances significantly influenced our character – at least in my environment. As a result, there are many in Vienna who dare a kind of spiritual balancing act, incorporating attributes from both cultures into their world view. 

Why do former guest worker or refugee children choose only one of the two mindsets? Why is it an either/or between their parents’ homeland or the country where they currently live? 

In my opinion, we are both; we are “hybrids” who are not subordinated to one or the other, to “here” or “there”. We are a mixture. In addition, increasingly global networking has brought influences from other parts of the world, which also shape our daily existence, and which make it even more difficult to place us into a single category. 

Citizen of the world

Does that mean that the classic image of national identity is over? 

For me, probably. I have learned that I cannot, and will not, identify myself with one nationality. Of course, I have characteristics from each of the Bosnian, Croatian and Austrian cultures. Nevertheless, I think it inadvisable to label myself with my countries of origin, because today people from all over the world consume the same media, enjoy similar leisure activities and work in the same professions. 

Likewise, people who share the same ethnic roots can have different interests, pursue opposite careers, or have contrasting approaches to family planning. 

For this reason, I have decided to identify myself as a so-called “citizen of the world” and to choose my affiliations based on character, sense of humour, and life goals. This has made it easier for me to take risks, because as soon as I stopped identifying with my nation of origin – when I chose different parameters for making connections – friendships quickly formed with like-minded people from all over the world. 

This has resulted in valuable bonds with fantastic individuals based not merely on the same country name, but primarily on compatible values and personality traits. 

Today, I am someone who no longer cares about country of origin. To me, the construct of nationality as an identity is outdated, inappropriate for the dynamics of today’s world.

Croatian Slang

Croatian is often described as harsh, serious sounding and difficult to learn. Nonetheless, it is also immensely colorful and creative, with words like rakija and propuh. Rakija is the legendary Croatian Schnaps, familiar even to many non-Croatian speakers. The answer to everything, it is even considered a medicine. Propuh on the other hand could be called the dark side of Croatian. It’s the word for the draught from your leaky doors and windows, and has been killing more people in the Balkans than all other diseases put together. 

Another essential part of a Croatian’s everyday language are the swear words, as common as dobar dan we say, like wishing someone a “good day.” For many Croats it is considered funny to teach these strong words to toddlers who then pronounce them in their own way and make it all sound cute and funny. 

Getting used to swearing at a very young age probably explains why saying things that might be offensive in other languages is relatively harmless in Croatian, like jebi ga (“f*ck it”), or sereš, literally “you are shitting,” but colloquially used for “you’re kidding.” Or jebeno which literally means “f*cked,” but actually means “cool” when used by Croats, or pas mater meaning “a dog f* your mother,” often just used to express surprise or disbelief. 

More so, the parts under the belt are commonly used in everyday expressions as much as in swearing, especially your mother’s vagina (“u pičku materinu”), or the male genitals, as in “kurčiti se,” which simply means to brag.

Apart from swearing, the Croatian language has other creative expressions, often layered with irony, like “tko ga šiša?” literally, Who is cutting his hair?, but commonly used to mean “I don’t care about him or his opinion.” 

In short, it’s probably best not to take what Croatians say too seriously, as in the helpful reply malo sutra, which literally suggests, “We’ll help you tomorrow,” but actually means “no way!” 

Austrian-Croatian Sports Legends

It all started with the national basketball team, which was always among the top three in the years after independence – whether at the World Cup, the European Championships, or the Olympic Games. By 1998 at the latest, the sporting world began to hear about Croatia when the legendary eleven players of the “coach of the century,” Miroslav Ćiro Blažević, won a bronze medal at the World Cup in France. Not everyone could have named Croatia’s capital, but the whole world knew its best player Davor Šuker. 

Then came the handball players, who have been on the podium almost every year out of the last two decades. And then the skiing siblings Janica and Ivica Kostelić, who have managed to become two of the world’s best ski racers, even though the country has hardly any mountains. Nor should Goran Ivanišević’s victory as a qualifier at Wimbledon 2001 be forgotten either. And then in 2018, a true football fairytale happened, when Croatia became runners-up in the World Cup. That year, Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modrić was named the best player of the World.

But the history of Austrian sport too has been written by some top athletes of Croatian origin. Integrated through sport, they and thousands of other children who came to Austria with their parents during the war, became part of Austrian society. 

Of these, the two best known athletes are Mirna Jukić-Berger and Ivica Vastić.

MIRNA JUKIĆ-BERGER

SWIMMER AND MULTIPLE EUROPEAN CHAMPION

NOW PART OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF ARTS, CULTURE, PUBLIC SERVICE AND SPORT

Austria is not traditionally a great swimming nation, yet Mirna Jukić-Berger decided to move to Vienna to pursue a great career. Starting to swim at the age of seven, the Vukovar native had to leave her home club Borovo because of the war and move to Zagreb.

At a competition in Vienna, the president of the swimming club Austria Wien contacted her and, after hearing her parents’ story, he suggested they come to Vienna and find their fortune there. Now 13, Mirna knew she wanted to get to the Olympics at some point: The options were Austria, Australia or South Africa. The Alpine Republic won because it wasn’t so far from home.

After that, as they say, it was history: Jukić-Berger became European champion several times (the 100 and 200 meter breast stroke and on the short course over 200 meters). The highlight of her extraordinary career was a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In total, she holds twelve Austrian swimming records; she received the Golden Decoration of Merit of the Republic of Austria in 2003 and was Sportswoman of the Year three times (2002, 2008 and 2009).

Austrian swimmer Mirna Jukic with the bronze medal she won at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

After her career, she supported many integration projects. “I personally think that sport is the easiest way to integrate. No one asks you what your name is or where you come from,” says Jukić-Berger, now 35. Since 2020, she has been working at the Federal Ministry of Sport (BMKÖS), in the Department of Sport Strategy, Sport and Society and Sport Report, focusing on sustainability and integration.

She thinks Austrian sport can also learn from the Croatian: “Cohesion, joy and the euphoria among athletes in all sports is something that Austrians can learn from us,” she says. “Sport in Croatia has a much higher status. In Austria, we as a society still have potential to work on that.” You can read her story in detail in her book Under Water, Over Life.

The former swimmer sees herself as both Austrian and Croatian and is at home in both countries: “I am proud that it is like that,” she confirms. She goes to Croatia several times a year, especially in the summer, as her whole family is there. In Vienna, she reports being well connected with the Croatian community and wants only to get more and more involved.

IVICA VASTIĆ

FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER

TODAY: COACH OF THE UNDER-18 TEAM OF FK AUSTRIA VIENNA

At 38 years and 257 days, Ivica Vastić is to this day the oldest goal scorer at a European Championship. And back in Austria, Vastić is an idol of countless boys with a migration background who dream of celebrating their own success one day.

Vastić was born and raised in the Croatian city of Split, where he learned the craft of shipbuilding. But what he wanted to do was to play football and began his career with RNK Split just before the outbreak of the Yugoslav war. Through family contacts he left for Vienna and played there – first for the legendary club First Vienna. A year later, he scored 18 goals for VSE St. Pölten, which is why Admira Wacker, a top club at the time, lured him to join. 

In 1994 he joined Sturm Graz, where he enjoyed great success over the next eight years. Under Bosnian coach Ivica Osim, he became captain, playmaker and goal-scorer, but also twice champion and three times cup and Super Cup winner each. He was Austria’s Footballer of the Year several times and was the league’s top scorer in 1996 and 2000.

In 1996, Vastić was granted Austrian citizenship and was able to make his debut against Switzerland in March. At the 1998 World Cup, he scored against Chile to make it 1-1 in the second preliminary round match. After that he was a regular in the national team until 2002. After an episode in Japan, he came back to Austria in 2003 and played two seasons with FK Austria Wien, winning the cup in 2005.

After the cup win, he moved to LASK Linz in the second division and led the team to second place in the table with 19 goals. A year later he became top scorer again with 23 goals and shot them into the 1st Bundesliga. In 2008, he was called up to the national team squad again, this time for the European Championship at home. In the match against Poland (1:1) he scored the only Austrian goal and became the oldest European Championship goal scorer ever at almost 39 years of age.

In May 2009, Ivo ended his professional career after 286 goals in 662 games. He had won the Austrian league twice and the Cup four times and was four times Footballer of the Year.

Only a few months after his professional retirement, he began his coaching career with a regional league club. His greatest success came in 2015 in the second division, when he was promoted with SV Mattersburg. Since 2018, he has been a coach in the youth section of FK Austria Wien.

Still, one of his strangest hours in football was a goal against Croatia in Vienna in 2000. Closely followed by a game against his other home country at the 2008 European Championship, which left him “quite queasy.”  

Who was he, in the end? Who is any of us?

GUEST ANALYSIS: What Sebastian Kurz Did – And Didn’t – Do For The ÖVP

In the decade before young Sebastian Kurz’s takeover of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), it appeared to be little more than a holding company for a fractious coalition of regional interests, the lowest common denominator of which was desire for power. Kurz’s genius was the professionalized marketing of the party (turquoise!) around his person: the well-spoken, perfect son-in-law. But with Kurz now gone, it has become clear that his sound and fury ultimately leaves very little for the future ÖVP to build on.

Kurz’s electoral success was so unprecedented that, just recently, the party appeared inseparable from him. He threw out the stale messaging of an earlier generation, and regional barons subordinated their voices so long as the Wunderkind delivered votes. Yet as his fortunes faded, undone by corruption investigations first, and then finally by mismanagement of the pandemic, it became clear that the regional leaders had no compunction about cutting the albatross from their collective neck.

Matthias Strolz, the former leader of the NEOS, said in an October panel discussion on ORF that it would take some weeks before the ÖVP processed the resignation of Kurz as chancellor. And indeed, regional barons soon realized there was no future in a vengeful, comeback-plotting leader trying to evade and ignore the Damoclean sword of Lady Justice – all to the detriment of the ÖVP-led government. Furthermore, Kurz’s association with the deadliest policy failure in the history of the Second Republic would not be soon forgotten.

Rearranging the deckchairs

With Kurz gone, it has become clear how negligibly he changed party structures and ideologies. The reshuffled cabinet, led by Karl Nehammer, is a mosaic of “System Kurz” remnants and regional party interests, with the Lower Austrian branch of the party (NO-ÖVP) commanding supremacy.

The original NÖ-ÖVP patrons of Kurz, such as Erwin Pröll, Michael Spindelegger, Wolfgang Sobotka and the incumbent governor of Lower Austria, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, were all regional heavyweights. Some of Kurz’s closest associates, such as Stefan Steiner, Gerald Fleischmann and Bernhard Bonelli, first earned their stripes in the NÖ-ÖVP orbit. Without regional support, Kurz’s party takeover would not have been possible.

The NÖ-ÖVP was a similarly necessary actor in Kurz’s undoing, and the new cabinet shows it remains the boss. Karl Nehammer was a Kurz stalwart but equally close to the NÖ-ÖVP. His successor as interior minister, Gerhard Karner, is an old hand from the NÖ-ÖVP and an experienced guardian of the party-linked networks in the security and intelligence services.

Meanwhile, Nehammer has thrown out close allies of Kurz, such as Gernot Blümel and Bernhard Bonelli. The rest of the Kurz faction is weak and likely to either be subsumed or phased out by the new party coalition. Elisabeth Köstinger only remains as agriculture and tourism minister because of support from the farming lobby. Alexander Schallenberg was a close Kurz ally, but is first and foremost a career diplomat, enabling his return to the foreign ministry.

Yet the power centre now emerging within the ÖVP is driven primarily by the need to stop the descent into directionless chaos. Nehammer is a placeholder, whose task is to steady the ship and steam further losses. Ideally, he could even win back support from disaffected voters, preventing the potential formation of a left-liberal majority in new elections.

Après moi

For now, the ÖVP finds itself where it was five years ago. Kurz was not a political visionary, but a figurehead whose primary service was to centralize communications and borrow anti-immigrant messaging from the far-right while trading horses with whichever interests would keep the party – and therefore him – in power. In the end, he had few partners or horses left, rendering him a liability.

Kurz has often been compared with the “illiberal democrats” of Central Europe. There is a lot to support this theory: the majoritarian conduct; prickly relationship with the courts; cozy relationship with key media; populist discourse. Yet a neglected comparison is with a politician once held to be the polar opposite of the charismatic young man, a veteran who outlasted the Wunderwuzzi onceso admired by factions of her own party: Angela Merkel.

Merkel is far from the image-fixated populism of Kurz. But like him, her party’s success became entirely dependent on her person. She also had no particular strategic vision; few reforms were enacted under her 16-year tenure. The policies she oversaw were either the domain of her coalition partners or reactions to cataclysmic events. She was a political loner, grooming no successors even if she opened the CDU to the youth.

Merkel and Kurz often seemed to represent the two different directions that European centre-right parties could take. But the irony is that, as both leaders retire from politics under very different circumstances, they leave their respective parties in a very similar place: paralytic chaos, with little sense of strategic as well as ideological direction. Strong leadership, whether imagined or real, does not necessarily prevent the flood after.

Croatian Food in Vienna | The Great Gastro-guide

Nowhere in Austria is the fact that food unites, more evident than in Vienna, where the doors to a half a dozen different cultures will open just a few steps from your own front door.

Here are a few of Vienna’s best Croatian restaurants. 

BRIUNI

From a town called Benkovac in Dalmatia (Croatia) comes Ante Paić, the owner of the Briuni restaurant, which he opened 14 years ago. The fun-loving restaurateur defies the challenges of life with the attitude that has already proven itself: to look at everything positively. Which is why his large extended family all find time to help in this contagiously happy enterprise.

In his Restaurant Briuni he offers dishes of Dalmatian Mediterranean cuisine, such as fish, pasta, but also pizza.

Must try:

The octopus, believe it or not, is the most popular dish on the menu.

His plans for the future are to stay healthy, to get through the pandemic in one piece and to be able to enjoy his retirement, which he will start in a year. The question of which of those relatives will take over remains open. 

2., Blumauergasse 2

restaurant-briuni.at

IG: @restaurant_briuni

LUBIN

Six years ago, Vedran Markić came from Karlovac (Croatia) to Vienna to take over the restaurant Lubin, which has now been in his family for 18 years. 

His biggest challenge, it turned out, was learning German. But in the meantime, Markić has settled in very well. His philosophy of life is korak po korak (“step by step”) which often gave him the strength and hope he needed during Corona-times. His plans for the future, which will hopefully be Covid-free, are to maintain the Lubin quality and to continue to satisfy his guests. But the restaurateur could well imagine more restaurants like this one, too, so maybe he’ll expand…

The Lubin offers variations of Dalmatian cuisine, mainly fish, but occasionally also meat.

Must try:

The “wolf of the sea,” the Wolfbarsch, or sea bass, for two or more, is a big hit at the classic Croatian fish restaurant.

3., Hainburgerstraße 48

lubin.at 

IG: @restaurant.lubin

KULINARIUM 7

by Romana Jarić

Spomenka Selmanović comes from Varaždin, Croatia, and has been in Vienna since she was 14 years old. At 24, she opened her first restaurant before taking over Kulinarium six years ago. At that time Selmanović decided to turn the Kulinarium from its menu of international dishes into a fish restaurant with Dalmatian Mediterranean cuisine and add number seven  to its name. Twice a week Selmanović gets her fresh fish from Croatia. 

Must try:

The fish soup: “You won’t get fish soup like this anywhere in Austria,” says Selmanović.

Selmanović says she has overcome life’s hurdles with her love for people, for food, for gastronomy. 

The entrepreneur has many plans for the future. She has also organized culinary trips to Istria with great success and is planning on continuing with boat trips to islands with wineries as well as opening a restaurant in a boutique hotel on the peninsula, Pelješac.  And all the while, she will be  finishing the latest reconstruction of the vaulted cellar in Kulinarium 7, where she plans to build a wine bar in the space below the restaurant. 

7., Sigmundsgasse 1

kulinarium7.com

IG: @kulinarium7.wien

Forgotten Scenes of Austrian-Croatian History

The seed for the Austro-Croatian cooperation was planted centuries ago. When the last king of the independent kingdom of Croatia Stephen II died without a heir in 1091, it was decided by the Realm’s nobles to join the kingdom of Hungary. Hungary was a major power at that time, the bulwark against the ever-expanding Ottoman Empire. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottomans had set out to expand westward into the heart of Christendom. As they subjugated one Christian realm after the other, they closed in on the Hungarians. Until 1526 as their armies finally met at Mohacs.

But by then, the once so formidable kingdom of Hungary was in turmoil, following the sudden death of King Vladislav II left the leadership to his inexperienced son Louis II. The battle was a disaster, leaving the new king and key members of the nobility dead, thrusting the kingdom into chaos. 

The remaining nobles elected Ferdinand of the house of Habsburg to be their new king and so it was that the kingdoms of Hungary and Croatia joined the Austrians.

Already devastated from war, the two kingdoms were now an all-too-fragile frontier against the Turks. In 1529, the Ottomans under Suleiman the Magnificent, one of the greatest leaders in history, whose vast realm stretched from Egypt to Serbia, finally broke through to arrive at the Habsburg capital of Vienna, the heart of the Holy Roman Empire. They laid siege to the city and after a month of bloody fighting they were finally stopped by a “miracle” snowstorm at the beginning of October, saving the city at the last moment.

The Forgotten Siege

Basically, everybody knows about the first siege of Vienna, but far fewer people are aware that Suleiman returned…

Over three decades after the first siege of Vienna, in 1566, Sultan Suleiman again set out from Constantinople to finally bring Vienna to its knees. As the massive army closed in on the city, the sultan received reports that a smaller detachment making its way up from the south had been intercepted and destroyed, and the Ottoman commander, a favorite, executed on the spot. Enraged the mighty sultan, turned south again to deal with this threat – which in truth had been only a small force composed of mostly Croatian riders.

This intrepid band was led by Nikola Šubić Zrinski, a Croatian nobleman who held command over a small force of 3,000 composed of Croatians and Hungarians as well as a rather insignificant fortress at Szigetvár in southern Hungary.

But Zrinski was anything but insignificant. As an accomplished general and former Ban (viceroy) of Croatia, he had served with distinction at the first siege of Vienna. He knew firsthand how devastating the might of the Turks could be and set out to again protect Vienna, but this time on his own terms.

Suleiman arrived at Szigetvár on the August 5, 1566, leading an army of over one hundred thousand soldiers. Immediately it was clear that this was not going to be an ordinary siege. The fortress was split into three sections, the new town, the old town, and the citadel, each surrounded by water and only connected by narrow bridges. 

As the attackers approached the walls, decorated with colorful banners as if in celebration., they were greeted by cannon fire. The Ottomans dug in and prepared to storm the fortress. Then as the Turkish cannons hammered the walls and wave after wave of attackers stormed the narrow bridges, they repulsed by the disciplined defense, suffering heavy losses with each attack. 

After three days, the defense of the new town became untenable. So the defenders calmly retreated into the old town suffering only miner casualties, while the Ottomans had lost over 3,000 soldiers. The old town proved an even more difficult price, as it was well defended and only approachable from a single bridge. For 10 days the enraged sultan threw his troops at the defenders, suffering horrendous casualties in men, supplies and morale. 

By this time news from the north reached the attackers, not only were the Austrians successfully preparing the defense of Vienna, but they even managed to retake some Hungarian cities under Ottoman control. When the Turks finally broke through to the old town only to witness the Croatians retreating in good order to the citadel, the sultan finally lost his patience. Enraged though he was, he also admired the valiant struggle of Zrinski and his men. He sent an envoy with an offer: if Zrinski would surrender the fortress to the Sultan, not only would he and his men be spared, he would be made ruler of all of Croatia. The sultan received no reply.

The citadel was the final line of defense, the last stand. Again, it was only approachable from a single bridge, flanked by high towers. The Turks brought their cannons into the old town to directly fire upon the walls of the citadel, while their men tangled in vicious hand-to-hand combat at the end of the narrow bridge. 

But the defenders still held their ground, while the Ottomans set to work constructing two additional bridges to create more points of attack. After a month of relentless attacks, the fighting suddenly stopped. Zrinski’s exhausted soldiers wondered if this was the day they were going to die. Four days went by without attack, when suddenly a giant explosion tore a huge hole in the citadel´s walls. The ottoman miners had detonated a black powder charge right underneath it.

Even though the citadel was breached, the buildings where on fire and the defenders could immediately be surrounded, another two days went by without an attack. Why the delay? Only the Ottoman inner circle knew that Sultan Suleiman the magnificent had died. Aged 72, exhausted from a life of conquest and the stresses of the siege of Szigetvár, he died of a stroke or possibly a heart attack. Afraid his death could dissolve the army, his inner circle had his personal physician strangled to prevent him giving away the secret.

After Suleiman’s lieutenants overtook leadership, they rallied their forces for the final attack to crush the remaining defenders and bring the siege to an end. Zrinski, witnessing the massing of attackers, refused to fight the final battle on Ottoman terms. With a stirring call to arms, he had the citadels gate thrown open, revealing a large cannon firing right into the mass of attackers. Hundreds were killed on the spot, throwing the Ottomans into panic. At this moment Zrinski and his remaining men charged out of the burning citadel, cutting their way across the bridge and pushing the Ottomans all the way back into the old town. After inflicting massive casualties, they were finally surrounded by the thousands of attackers. When the fighting finally stopped Zrinski and every single one of his men laid dead at the feet of the Turks. 

With the defenders gone, the Ottomans rushed to take the battered citadel. But they had not seen the last of Zrinski’s resistance. Right before their final charge, the defenders lit a fuse connected to a massive powder magazine. As the attackers poured into the fortress, they received Zrinskis´s parting gift. The magazine, killing an additional 3,000 Ottomans.

It was over: Zrinski and his men were dead, Szigetvár was taken. But the cost had been monstrous. The Ottomans lost between, 20,000 and 30,000 soldiers, untold masses of provisions and munitions, winter was fast approaching and their great leader, was gone. All for a strategically insignificant ruin. After that, the planned attack on Vienna was no longer an option and the Ottomans retreated. It would take them more than a century to threaten Central Europe again.

The story of the siege at Szigetvár reverberated through Europe, with the clergy declaring it “the battle that saved civilization.” Zrinski and his men where immortalized in song and poem, and they were celebrated as an example for heroism and untrembling resistance in the face of certain death.

Maria Theresa and her Croats

As time went on, destiny again called upon the Croatians to help Austria. When Emperor Karl VI, too, had no male heirs to ensure a stable succession, he dictated a revolutionary document known as the Pragmatic Sanction. It declared, among other things, that a woman would be able to ascend to the Habsburg throne. 

All that was needed was the official support of the various kingdoms of the Empire. At first, the nobles hesitated. And it was the Croatians who took the first step, signing the Pragmatic Sanction. Nonetheless as Maria Theresa claimed the throne, many of the other rulers were appalled by the idea of a woman as the head of a mayor European power and a war of succession followed. 

In the end, Maria Theresa turned out to be one of Austria’s great leaders, enacting many reforms in legislation, administration and education, she was also patron to many building projects and the expansion of infrastructure, specifically in Croatia, where her rule is considered a little golden age in the region. According to contemporary accounts, she never forgot that first signature, and held a special place in her heart for her Croats.

A quiet legacy

As years past, the impact of the Croats on the empire was more subtle, serving the Habsburgs as obedient and resilient subjects. After the first siege of Vienna, the rampaging Ottoman armies had left large parts of south-eastern Austria depopulated, and royal decree summoned the Croatians to fill the void. Conscientiously, they rebuilt the desolated countryside and establishing thriving new communities. Today, many towns in the Marchfeld, east of Vienna, can trace their roots back to those settlers, whose inhabitants are often unaware of their Croatian descent.

In contrast with their southern brethren in glorious Burgenland, where Croatian communities have stood the test of time. To this day, you can wander into one of many little villages and hear people casually chatting in a Croatian dialect centuries old.

To me, the idea that these people were never forced to assimilate, or “Germanize,” stands as a beautiful example that in Austria, diversity may not be such a new idea after all.

Croatians in Austria | Vienna With Croatian Flair

Cro Vienna – A Viennese-Croatian Football Club 

It’s summer, 2018. Croatia had once again been embossed in gold letters into the annals of football history. Winning the silver medal at the World Cup catapulted Croatia back to the very top of world football.  And it was celebrated in Vienna, where many Croats had come to live. Furthermore it’s no secret that a lot of Croatian national team members have come from the diaspora. For Croats, at home and abroad, football and the national team are sacred.

This is a story about football and Croats, about Austria, Vienna and in particular, one football club. But, first, you need to know that a large number of young Croats, or Austrians of Croatian origin, live in and grow up in Vienna. Many were born with an innate talent for football – or at least that’s what we like to believe (maybe to harsh?). They all dream of donning checkered jerseys and playing for the national team. But the road is long and difficult – and reserved for only a few.

For many Croatian-Viennese children, the journey begins at Cro-Vienna, a football club with a Croatian insignia, but more importantly, Croatian flair. Still, the club welcomes children of all nationalities and backgrounds, making the club even bigger.

The story of Cro Vienna dates back to 2004. The Austrian-Croatian Association for Culture and Sports sent a group of Croatian-Viennese boys under the age of 14 to a tournament in Vukovar (Croatia). They were from various Austrian clubs. And on their return, they were asked to write down their impressions. The young athletes, almost to a person, said they wanted to play for a Croatian club in Austria. Two years later, Cro Vienna was created. 

Today, it is a well-established football club known in Austrian football circles as a nursery for talent. Players who today defend the colors of Austrian and other European clubs took their first football steps in Cro Vienna.  One of those is David Durić, an extremely talented young member of the Croatian national team and a member of Vienna Rapid. Cro Vienna is also successful in senior football and competes in the Vienna Oberliga A. 

In launching the club, the founders were guided by one thought: Football is not just a purpose, but a means for a purpose, i.e. the purpose of socializing, making friends, learning the Croatian language, while nurturing the country’s tradition, culture and customs. 

Today, more than 200 players in those famous jerseys train on Cro Vienna football fields, says Ruža Stjepanović, the ‘good spirit’ of Cro Vienna, with 33 in the first team. The story of Cro Vienna is, in a sense, the personification of the story of the Croats and their success and progress in Austria. After 15 years, Cro Vienna has become a respected football club, with a clear vision and a bright future. 

In addition, the club is a true representative of Croats in Austria, and a tough but fair opponent on the field. There is no doubt that a lot will be heard about them in the future.  Who knows? The next Luka Modrić may be already out there training on a Cro Vienna pitch.

Vienna’s Hrvatski dom – Where Croats Meet

Beyond football, it is the sheer wealth of Croatian clubs, associations and other gathering places that make possible the rich social life of the Croatian diaspora in Austria. One of these is the Hrvatski dom (Croatian Home), which organizes cultural and social events.

Founded by a team of experts to ease integration through joint projects with Austrian institutions, it has been for many a game changer. Association president and entrepreneur Andrej Lucić, moved quickly to launch Hrvatski dom, making possible a series of projects for the preservation of Croatian identity, language, culture, and tradition. 

“We want to strengthen the [sense of] unity in the Croatian community in Austria and its interconnection to our homelands of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Lucić said. “Connecting emigrants with their homeland, and using the potential of Croats across the world – these values are what we emphasize.”

He is particularly proud of their newly equipped library, where you can find well-known Croatian literary works, as well as valuable professional literature.

Like other organizations, they have been severely disrupted by the pandemic. Nevertheless, they are working hard on new projects for Croats in Austria, and all interested in Croatian culture.

Kroativ.at – The Favorite Information Portal of Croats in Austria

Kroativ.at, a bilingual, independent information portal in Croatian and German at the Hrvatski dom is especially popular, following events in the Croatian community in Austria and the diaspora. Kroativ also offers current information from Croatia and Austria, and is considered as a key source for all interested.

Founded in 2013, Kroativ came under new ownership just over a year ago, intensifying its work and expanding its reach. “So without any false modesty,” says Željko Batarilo, editor-in-chief of Kroativ, “it became the most influential and most visited Croatian-Austrian medium, with about 35,000 visitors a day and about 1,5 million per month.” 

As a bilingual portal, they try to offer readers interesting and informative content about politics, business, and culture, to be further extended by its own Kroativ TV in the future, in a TV-studio they have already built.  

The Latest News from Austria & Vienna: GDP in Austria Above Pre-crisis Level

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We bring you all the latest scoops and news from Austria & Vienna, so can shine with your insider knowledge at your next dinner invitation in Vienna.

We introduce this new format based on positive feedback on our coverage of the coronavirus in Austria and Vienna. This regularly updates static article is your go-to address for the latest news and developments.

December 2021

02.12.2021 – GDP in Austria Above Pre-crisis Level

The catch-up process of the Austrian economy continued in the third quarter of 2021 after the third lockdown. The GDP (gross domestic product) increased by 3.8 percent compared to the second quarter. Compared to the third quarter 2020 it increased by 5.7 percent. This stated Statistics Austria on Thursday. For the first time, the economic output was higher than
before the corona crisis, by 1.1 percent in relation to the third quarter of 2019.

Several economic sectors have left the crisis behind them, said Statistics Austria director Tobias Thomas. Even in the sectors accommodation and gastronomy, which were hit hard by the crisis, 88.5 percent of the pre-crisis level was generated.

The current, fourth lockdown is an endurance test, said Thomas. However, there is nothing stopping a continuation of the economic recovery course with a sustainable containment of the pandemic.

The latest news from Austria & Vienna is reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.


02.12.2021 – Possible Movement in Nuclear Talks With Iran

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani © APA/AFP/VLADIMIR SIMICEK

There might be movement in the Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna. The government in Teheran made two proposals on Thursday. The proposals are now to be checked. “We are in Vienna to continue the negotiations”, said Iran’s top negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani. This was according to the news agency Reuters. The two proposals focus on lifting sanctions and on obligations in the nuclear deal (JCPOA), the news agency Irna reported.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Premier Minister Naftali Bennet demanded the immediate discontinuation of the nuclear talks with Iran.

On Monday the talks to save the Iran nuclear deal resumed. The talks are the first diplomatic rapprochement after a month-long break and a change of president in Tehran.

Reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.


01.12.2021 – Stationary Retail Opens on Sunday, December 19

The economic output increased in the third quarter © APA (Themenbild)/BARBARA GINDL

Stationary retail will be open on Sunday, December 19 this year. Due to the current lockdown three pre-Christmas shopping, Saturdays, and the traditionally lucrative holiday on December 8 are missed out. Opening stationary trade on Sunday before Christmas should make up for at least some of the sales. The prerequisite is that the coronavirus pandemic situation in Austria allows an opening.

 “The possibility of the one-time opening affects only those branches that are closed during the lockdown,” the union clarified. Supermarkets remain closed on December 19. Fashion retailers, electronics stores, toy stores, bookstores, and others are expected to benefit from the agreement the social partners agreed on Tuesday evening.

Employees who offer to work on December 19 will earn double and get an extra day off.


The latest news from Austria & Vienna is reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.

Sebastian Kurz Announces His Retreat From Political Life

Today, former chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced his withdrawal from political life at a press conference in which he reviewed the successes and challenges of his ten-year, meteoric career at the top of Austrian politics, thanked his team, supporters and former coalition partners, and explained why he is stepping back.

Controversy has swirled around former Kurz of late, a man who once seemed to never make a political miscalculation and whose party, the center-right ÖVP, had unequivocally supported his leadership. Now, debate has ensued around who will lead the party – with Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) reportedly tapped to become head of the party, and possibly the next federal chancellor, replacing Alexander Schallenberg.

He hoped that he had helped “move our beautiful Austria a little bit in the right direction,” said Kurz in a press conference. He said he continues to believe that people in Austria should work, should be able to live from that work, that migration should not be allowed to continue “unsteered,” and that the country needs a strong economy to keep delivering prosperity.

Emotional roller coaster

Kurz said he has gone through a “Wechselbad an Gefühlen” (an emotional roller coaster) of late: On the one hand, it’s great to feel that you are doing the right thing, he said. On the other hand, as Chancellor, each day one has to make so many decisions that you know some will be wrong. The media pressure has been intense, he said, and he and his team felt “hunted” at times.

He said that he and his team worked around the clock for the last ten years, which hadn’t left time for “beautiful and important” aspects of life, such as family. “I’m convinced that investing 100 percent of your time is necessary in that kind of role,” he said, “and that one also needs 100% enthusiasm and joy.” In the last few weeks, this appeal changed for him. He said he used to think that politics was a “competition of the best ideas,” but that lately it had become a battle of accusations and counter-accusations, and that even though this was to be expected in a top position, it had been draining and had dampened, to some extent, the “flame” of his enthusiasm.

In reference to recent scandals and allegations of corruption and lying to investigators, Kurz said he wanted to clearly state that he is “neither a saint nor a criminal, but a person.” He added: “I’m looking forward to the day when I can prove in court that the accusations against me are simply false.”

What comes next

Kurz said that the future of the ÖVP will be secured by the country’s young, motivated citizens, and that the party will continue to stand for “hard work, personal responsibility and solidarity.”

In his speech, he listed the incredible moments in his career as minister and then chancellor that he was grateful for, but said all of it was topped by the birth of his son, “a little baby I could look at for hours.” He said he is looking forward to the next chapter of his life and would be spending time with his child and family until revisiting his next professional steps in the new year.

Reactions from other political parties have started coming in on Twitter and on TV, with the far-right FPÖ’s Herbert Kickl celebrating the end of Kurz, the NEOS Beate Meinl-Reisinger wishing Kurz well and others expressing their understanding and support. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) said he had “huge respect” for Kurz’s decision, and that they had worked well together delivering pandemic relief and initiating the eco-social tax reform, that put a price on CO2 for the first time. Kogler wished “the young family” well.

As Kurier reported, Kurz’s resignation from politics will likely lead to a reshuffle within the ÖVP that could see Interior Minister Karl Nehammer become head of party and federal chancellor, and Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck step away from her job. The only certain thing for now is that this story and its fallout promises to dominate local news in the coming days.

Word of the Week: Brillenschlange [ˈbʁɪlənˌʃlaŋə]

Noun. 1. The German term for the Indian cobra (naja naja); lit.  “snake with spectacles.” The name derives from the fact that the rear of its hood sports a pattern that (vaguely) resembles a pince-nez, a doughty ancestor of modern eyeglasses now rarely seen outside of period dramas and the steampunk community.

However, as the somewhat whimsical name belies the lethal impact of this venomous creature, the more generic term, Kobra, is more commonly used today.

2. An unflattering expression for someone who wears corrective lenses; the German equivalent of “four-eyes.”  Now, it stands to reason that designating someone a dangerous snake, a salute usually saved for sports cars, special forces and ’80s action heroes, might be considered excessive, even flattering.  But alas! It is merely a not-so-clever pun used to further humiliate those nerdy, bespectacled book worms who already clearly have their doubts about the future of civilization.

Rarely uttered outside of schoolyards and playgrounds, the term has nonetheless left a trail of former and current Brillenschlangen who harbor deep emotional scars from childhood teasing – further fueling the lucrative contact lens industry and leading to long lines outside laser surgery clinics.

The result:  The species is now increasingly rare outside of the Schönbrunn zoo.

No matter how well you speak German, the Word Of The Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

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