December 18, 2017 / 1:40 PM / a year ago

France wants pro-European dialogue with new Austrian coalition

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s foreign ministry said on Monday it wanted to engage in a dialogue based on European values and projects with Austria, after a eurosceptic far-right party joined the coalition government.

Ministers from Austria’s main conservative People’s Party (OVP) and the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPO) were sworn in on Monday, making it the only western European country with a far-right component in its governing coalition.

Asked if he had concerns about cooperating with a foreign ministry or security services under the control of far-right ministers, French foreign ministry deputy spokesman Alexandre Giorgini sought to skirt the question.

“France congratulates Mr Sebastian Kurz. The new Chancellor has, on many occasions, affirmed his attachment to European values and the European project, which his government’s programme is taking on board,” Giorgini said.

“It is in this spirit that we want to engage in a dialogue with his government.”

The response within the European Union has so far been rather muted, with most countries appearing to adopt a wait and see attitude.

“Three far-right ministers in key positions in Austria. What are European democrats waiting for to react?” Former French Socialist prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Twitter.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Ingrid Melander

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