Deutsche Welle
May 21, 2022

Will Austria abandon neutrality to join NATO?

Fifty prominent Austrians are openly questioning the country’s stance on neutrality. Yet, Austria, unlike Sweden and Finland, lacks majority support for joining the NATO defense alliance. Here’s why.

By declaring their intention to join the NATO defense alliance, Finland and Sweden are respectively abandoning decades and centuries of neutrality. Yet Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has said Austria has no intention of following suit.

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But then, 50 prominent Austrians – from business, politics, academia and civil society – raised the issue publicly. In an open letter, they called on Federal President Alexander van der Bellen to independently examine whether the country’s policy of neutrality was fitting for the times.

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Polls regularly show that some 75% of Austrians wish to maintain neutrality.

One would think this would signal the end of the discussion. Still, it begs the question of why Austria’s neutrality appears so non-negotiable, especially since the country pursues a far more active foreign policy path than Sweden, Finland or neighboring Switzerland.