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Kogler on dispute with ÖVP: “We are not in kindergarten”

Kogler on dispute with ÖVP: “We are not in kindergarten”
Kogler on dispute with ÖVP: “We are not in kindergarten”

Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens)

“Something will happen,” Kogler assured in an APA interview on Wednesday. “We are not in kindergarten or some youth camp where you turn away insulted.” And he has not yet given up on the possibility of participating in the government after the National Council elections – with Leonore Gewessler on his team.

  • also read: What the Renaturation Act says – and what it doesn’t

Kogler rejected the idea that the Greens had risked the government for an election campaign maneuver by voting yes to the renaturation law at EU level shortly before their party conference: “We weighed things up to the best of our knowledge and belief,” he stressed. “It was a vital decision for nature, for the whole of Europe. Austria and we were the deciding factor.” There is no temporal connection between the federal congress and such EU votes. “You have to make the right decisions at the right time – and that is why we were elected.”

“All steps legally secured”

The ÖVP, however, reacted so angrily that the coalition was on the brink. The People’s Party announced that it would file charges against the Green Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler for abuse of office. Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) spoke of a “more than serious breach of trust” and said that the Greens had shown their “true face”. “We are very relaxed about these announcements, including from a legal point of view,” Kogler confirmed, because after all, “all steps have been legally secured.”

“Our true face is that we are passionate about and committed to climate, environmental and nature conservation. That will not surprise anyone and we have been doing that for a long time,” Kogler countered. There have also been other situations “that were difficult.” Kogler also referred to other Green achievements such as the climate ticket or the plastic deposit.

“This will also work, I am confident”

In any case, the ÖVP and the Greens skipped the meeting at the weekly cabinet meeting this Wednesday. Will the coalition partners even make any more joint appearances? “I assume so. We have a lot to do,” said Kogler. There is a lot going on in the National Council and he is “convinced and confident” that ÖVP parliamentary group leader August Wöginger and Green parliamentary group leader Sigrid Maurer will get everything done. For example, it is about wages instead of pocket money for disabled people, billions for municipalities and better conditions for students.

Despite the rift, Kogler believes that other projects will be implemented, for example in connection with a faster ban on fully slatted floors in pig farming: “That will also succeed, I am confident.” In the area of ​​security, “there is always something to be done,” said Kogler, referring to the “Sky Shield” air defense initiative. This is also an important concern for the ÖVP. Kogler also mentioned tax cuts, which are about the distribution of the last third of the cold progression. There is also a lot to be done in the phase-out of Russian gas. However, the Electricity Industry Act, for example, is also open.

There have been “much bigger crises”

Asked whether he seriously believed that the ÖVP would implement projects specifically from Gewessler’s areas with the Greens, Kogler replied: It was about shared responsibility, “it’s not about the ÖVP on its own or about any officials who might be irritated.” After all, “they are constantly dealing with irritations in the ÖVP.” But Chancellor Nehammer was generally acting very responsibly. “Please, we’re not in kindergarten or some youth camp where you turn away insulted. Our government program is called ‘Responsibility for Austria’, and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to live by.”

There have been “much bigger crises” in the turquoise-green coalition, Kogler recalled the turbulence surrounding Sebastian Kurz. Both the Chancellor and the Greens are now “well coordinated” with the Federal President, as they were then, “the three of us are in constant communication.”

“This mix only exists with the Greens”

EU renaturation was not the only issue on which the Greens have snubbed their coalition partner recently. Kogler recently declared that he no longer felt bound by the side letter that allowed the ÖVP to appoint the EU Commissioner. The Vice Chancellor pointed out that, by law, an agreement in the Council of Ministers and a majority in the main committee were required. “We will also strive for an agreement and it will come to that.” The question of the validity of the side letter had not only arisen for him now, “it has been clear to me for a long time, and I have also said so, that these previous agreements are no longer valid because the prerequisites have ceased to apply, and I will leave it at that for now.” He did not want to discuss the reasons publicly. “It is certainly the case.” The personnel decisions would be made “as conscientiously as they have been up to now,” assured Kogler.

The Greens’ continued participation in government has probably become even more unlikely after the events of the past few days. However, Kogler is “relaxed” and does not believe that after the election no party will enter into a coalition with the Greens. “First of all, there is the election.” They are campaigning for climate and nature conservation, but also for “economic common sense” and social security – “this combination is only possible with the Greens, and that is what we are campaigning for.” After the election, we must look at “what democratic majorities make possible,” said Kogler. “We are of course interested in becoming so strong that we play a role in exploratory talks and negotiations.”

The ÖVP has been so angry since the weekend that it compared Gewessler to FPÖ leader Herbert Kickl. Upper Austria’s governor Thomas Stelzer (ÖVP) said that he could only imagine the Greens as a possible coalition partner after the National Council election without Gewessler. Kogler is unimpressed: “We will not get involved in anything like that at all.” They act as a strong team and “we will continue to work together like that.” If they become so strong in the election that they play a role in the government negotiations, “then yes, with Leonore Gewessler.”

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