SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 20 January 2022, Thursday |

Ex-Austria Chancellor Kurz made co-chairman of anti-racism group

Sebastian Kurz, the former Austrian chancellor who resigned last year following corruption charges, has been named co-chairman of the European Council for Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), the non-governmental group said on Sunday.

The ECTR is a collection of previous leaders and other decision-makers dedicated to combating extremism, racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia. Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, is also the chairman.

Kurz’s selection may cause controversy, especially after he formed a coalition with the anti-immigration Freedom Party in 2017, making Austria the only Western European country with a far-right party in power.

In office he opposed Austria accepting asylum seekers from a destroyed refugee camp in Greece or taking in any more people fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power last year.

“It is a great honor to join such an important organization which works against extremism and for greater tolerance across Europe,” Kurz said in a statement issued by the ECTR.

“I know first-hand how importantly leaders take the work of the ECTR in creating policy to fight racism, antisemitism and xenophobia.”

The 35-year-old resigned as chancellor in October. The resignation followed allegations Kurz and other officials had secretly used public funds to manipulate polls in an effort to help him become leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party and then chancellor in 2017.

Kurz, who denies all wrongdoing, said in December he was leaving politics entirely.

Since then Austrian media has reported he will work for Thiel Capital, the investment firm started by the billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

“Sebastian Kurz is widely known for his dedication in fighting all forms of antisemitism, terrorism, extremism and radicalization with a particular focus on preventing youth radicalization during his almost 10 years in leadership roles,” the ECTR said.

He has also been very vocal in addressing Austria’s role in the Holocaust, it added.