‘Austria will stay in EU if Turkey stays out’ – presidential candidate Hofer to RT

Norbert Hofer © Heinz-Peter Bader
There will be no need for a referendum on EU membership in Austria if the European Union decides not to let Turkey become a member, Norbert Hofer, the head of Austria’s eurosceptic Freedom Party (FPO) told RT.

“I believe that people are able to learn, that political structures are able to develop, and that Austria will contribute to making Europe better. There is one exception, however, that is if the EU decides to let Turkey join the Union,” Hofer said, adding that under such circumstances “Austrians will have to be asked whether they want this.”

“I hope that there will be no need for a referendum [on EU membership] in Austria, and that the Union will develop in a positive manner,” he added. “But I am fully certain that Austrian people will not accept Turkish membership in the bloc, as well as the situation where Austria is deprived of its powers in favor of the authorities in Brussels.”

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Hofer said the EU must learn the lesson the posed by the British referendum, namely to divide the powers between its central authority in Brussels and the 27 member states.

“Of course I was concerned about the future of the EU [in view of the British referendum results]. I respect the decision the British nation made, all democratic decisions must be respected,” he said.

“However, the European Union must learn this lesson: we must be creating Europe for the people, not Europe for bureaucrats. This means that we need to come up with better agreements, we must divide the powers between the EU, on the one hand, and its member states, on the other, and get the citizens involved in these projects,” Hofer said.

He said that the EU has a chance to avoid the  of other European states following the UK out of the bloc if it becomes a subsidiary union, which “takes into consideration, which powers are exercised by its authorities, and which – by member states.”

"Bottom line, it all depends on the direction the EU chooses for its further development,” Hofer said.

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Earlier, Hofer warned that Austria could hold its own referendum on EU membership within a year if the bloc insists on political “centralization.” The FPO leader and his establishment see the bloc as based on economic, rather than political, cooperation. And his views have an increasing influence on the public opinion in Austria, especially now that Hofer has a chance to become Austrian president after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled a re-run of last month’s presidential election which saw him narrowly lose the post by just 31,000 votes.

“If the EU chooses the right path, there will be no need for a referendum in Austria,” Hofer told RT.