If Libyans want freedom we support them – Austrian FM
Spindelegger welcomes any talks with freedom fighters in Benghazi but said he does not know whether they can take responsibility for all Libyan rebels. That is why he goes to the region himself to communicate with rebels, to gain a better idea of their intentions and capabilities and “we have to decide if we could recognize them as the new leaders of Libya”.“They [rebels] are very much concerned about violations in Libya today,” believes Spindelegger.He assures that the coalition is in Libya to protect civilians and that is why Austria welcomed the UN Security Council’s resolution 1973, but said his country is not in a position to send any military support to the coalition forces in Libya.Spindelegger declined to predict the country that will next follow the example of Tunisia and Egypt, but said that “people in all the [Middle East] countries are not satisfied with their living conditions, with their perspectives, there are a lot of young people without a job – and this is more or less a problem in all the different countries.”“If they would like to have more freedom – freedom of expression, democratic structures, real elections – of course we can support them. If this is just about pushing out the regime representing their country at the moment, then this is another story and this is not our story.”Spindelegger said Europe must expect more refugees because of mass protests in the Arab world and the war in Libya in particular, so the EU ought to be prepared for that and Austria is ready for this challenge.He sees a role for the EU in establishing democratic structures in Libya, but adds “if there is a civil war, we should not be involved in that.”Over the last ten years there has been an increase in refugees going to Austria, particularly because of the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, and this poses a question of how to integrate these people into the life of the country, said Spindelegger. Back in 1912, the Austro-Hungarian Empire recognized Islam as an official religion and that means in Austria the multicultural trend started quite some time ago.“This is Austria and we would like to be one nation in the future, but being of course composed of different people,” Michael Spindelegger stated.