President of the Republic of Austria

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 25 January 1978

I should like to begin by thanking you for inviting me to attend a sitting of the Parliamentary Assembly. It is six years to the day that I had the honour – as the Foreign Minister of Austria – to address this Assembly, though in a more modest building. I am greatly honoured to be with you again today.

Allow me, Mr President, to express my sincere thanks also to the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers for attending this sitting of the Parliamentary Assembly.

Let me begin with a confession. I have not brought with me from Vienna the magical command which would open the door to the solution of all European and world problems. But what I have brought with me is:

– faith and confidence in Europe’s ability to solve the many problems facing it,

– and the invigorating conviction that the Council of Europe has a great part to play in this process and a great contribution to make.

I must admit that I was one of those who about five years ago, in order to avert the political sickness that seemed to me then to threaten the Council, provoked a discussion of the role and tasks of the Council of Europe. I am happy to note that in recent years this discussion – a discussion which concerned our countries – has died down and that today the need for the existence and the activities of the Council of Europe is no longer called into question by any of its members, and that even the various mental reservations which may have occasionally existed, appear to have disappeared.

This is a fortunate development. The more self-evident the existence and the activities of the Council of Europe, the more we, the individual member states, as well as the individual bodies of the Council of Europe, will be able to free ourselves from the idea of rivalry with other European institutions, in particular the European Communities. This idea of rivalry, which has sometimes amounted to fear, would, if retained in future, merely weaken the Council of Europe and the basis of the European Communities. All of us, whether we belonged or belong to the “Nine” or to the former “other Nine” have erred here in word and deed or by omission. Common sense and feeling both give us the same answer: Brussels is not in competition with Strasbourg, nor Strasbourg with Brussels, just as Strasbourg has never been in competition with Helsinki or Belgrade. We of the Council of Europe have no reason to feel inferior, nor have we any reason to feel in any way superior.

We, the members of the Council of Europe, are an international community, a great European community of like-minded people. As the organisational form of this community, the Council of Europe is equally necessary for all members. Many of us – and I include Austria – have sometimes wrongly given the impression that they need the Council of Europe more than do other members. All of us need it. And I shall go so far as to say that the time will come when our friends on the other side of the Atlantic will recognise that it is a mistake to treat a European institution which includes twenty countries, and thus a very considerable component of Europe in almost all discussions and contacts, as of secondary importance. Any underestimation of spiritual values and ideals must in the end lead to disillusionment, even in politics. Those that want a pluralist world, need as comprehensive and extensive a community of like-minded people as possible in order to ensure cohesion.

It is also possible that the significance of the Council of Europe has not yet fully penetrated to the states of what is known as Eastern Europe because it has not been sufficiently in evidence as a partner in discussions. And yet the present concept of peaceful coexistence requires that the Council of Europe should play its part and make a great contribution. Whether we approve or not, the ideological argument between East and West will go on. It has not been curtailed by either Helsinki or Belgrade. Would it not be – and I said this six years ago in this Assembly – a European task, a true contribution to peace, to work out, within the framework of the Council of Europe and in particular of the Parliamentary Assembly, the common political position of the large groupings represented here, thus actively defining the position of democracy as conceived by us and setting a limit to all totalitarian forms of society, left or right.

Surely our great opportunity lies not merely in establishing the necessary theoretical demarcations or the common understanding of democracy shared by the important political groupings represented here; it lies not in words, but in deeds. The influence of our community of like- minded individuals is not felt in campaigns; people are tired of them. It is our deeds that must speak for us.

If, therefore, we wish to spread our concept of democracy, our concept of the freedom and dignity of man, our ideas of justice, our view of man as the focal point and end of our political efforts – and we do – then we must make this concept a reality in all our member states. We must show that we are able, within our social order, to develop our economy and raise the standard of living of all our fellow citizens, without becoming the slaves of materialism. We must prove, in each one of our states, that freedom of speech, that all democratic freedoms are possible without engendering licentiousness and lack of restraint. We must show that the social needs of individuals, including the handicapped, are truly the concern of the governments and parliaments. We must also prove that the demands of minorities, aimed at preserving their national character, are being given serious consideration by the entire state. And the most valuable part of our support for human rights and basic freedoms must be for us the realisation of these in our own country, with no exceptions. It is also up to us to show by example that differences of opinion, even disputes and a conflict of interests, can be solved by peaceful means.

If we succeed in this and in much more, then we shall be able to provide a “display window” which gives our community of like-minded individuals international significance and lends the Council of Europe and its members an authority that penetrates even beyond Europe.

Only if the Council of Europe stands by and implements the principles for which it was founded shall we be able to create a solid basis for the necessary political tasks of the Council of Europe.

Backed by our eloquent example and our clear political orientation, we in the Council of Europe can constitute a stronger partner than hitherto in the East-West dialogue and so play a part in bringing about détente; we can also take a stronger stand than hitherto in world affairs and be listened to and we can also claim much better than before to represent Europe vis-à-vis our discussion partners.

We are united – as the Statute of the Council of Europe that we have all ratified says – by the resolve to establish peace on a foundation of justice; we are united by the common heritage of our peoples with all their intellectual and moral values and by the concepts we share of individual freedom, political freedom and the rule of law on which any true democracy rests. We are united also by our common desire for social and economic progress and, lastly, by our objective of a great united Europe.

Let us not underestimate the force of these principles that unite us and let us have the patience to translate them into political action freely agreed between us. It is not that the Council of Europe and its organs have no executive power that is our weakness, but the fact is that we often lack the patience, and often too the will, to find a European solution to the problems with which we have to deal.

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, the thoughts that I have sought to express as a reflection of our common standpoint may seem to many to weigh lightly in the balance in comparison with the great aim of European unity in whose name the Statute of the Council of Europe was signed in London on 5 May 1949. Let me therefore make this clear: Churchill’s vision of a united Europe is an enduring one. What I was trying to describe was a possible way of achieving that goal.

And now another plea. Do not let us underestimate the integrating force of the conventions and agreements concluded in the Council of Europe. It will be the greater the more member states resolve to ratify these European instruments or to put them otherwise into effect, and the more states’ self-imposed restrictions are reflected in a minimum of declared reservations.

Perhaps it would also be a good thing to intensify political contacts between member states of the Council of Europe. The time to do so could be found by limiting the polite formalities, in other words by forgetting protocol, as can well be done between friends.

Our universal recognition and appreciation of the Council of Europe ought, to my mind, to be expressed in its appropriate financing by all the member states. The administration is not a necessary evil but an indispensable feature of an international organisation. In the Council of Europe it has always done exceptionally good work. I am glad to have this opportunity of offering my sincere thanks to the Secretariat and to the Secretary General. Let us beware of hindering their valuable efforts by making too much of financial problems.

Perhaps, Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, you were expecting a word from me about the situation that will arise with the direct election of the European Parliament. It seems to me that a thorough discussion of its consequences for the Council of Europe is needed in the Parliamentary Assembly and in the Committee of Ministers. I should like to stress just one thing today. I am convinced that the direct election of the European Parliament will give impetus to European-mindedness throughout our continent. There is no cause to fear or to be worried about direct elections. We must simply make use of this greater awareness of Europe in a way, though not an imitative one, still to be determined by you and by the member states. I am not among those – as you will realise from what I say – who look on direct elections to the European Parliament with apprehension; on the contrary I am among those who wish to adapt its consequences where possible for the benefit of greater Europe.

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, in this speech I have had the privilege of making to you, I have made no solemn vows on Austria’s behalf of attachment to the Council of Europe, nor have I spoken to you of the questions that must arise for a permanently neutral state in relation to its membership of the Council. I do not feel that any solemn vows are necessary since Austria’s full commitment to the Council of Europe is constantly evidenced by the Austrian members of the Parliamentary Assembly, appointed by our parliament, as well as by the Austrian delegations to the Committee of Ministers and all the other Council of Europe bodies. The support given to the Council of Europe by Austria’s legislative body and by our Federal Government is fully reflected in public opinion in our country. The question of permanent neutrality needs no more analysis here today since more than twenty years of practice have illustrated it sufficiently. Hitherto our permanent neutrality has never placed any restrictions on Austria’s active participation in the work of all the Council of Europe’s organs and institutions, since in declaring its permanent neutrality Austria has never left any doubt about its firm family attachment to Western democracy, according to whose principles it wishes to go on living.

And so it only remains for me, Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, to ask you to see my visit to the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg as an organic and natural consequence of Austria’s and my own personal appreciation of the Council of Europe and in particular of its Parliamentary Assembly. Thank you.


THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr Kirchschläger. We are very grateful to you for this statement of principle coming as it does from a Head of State. It has surprised many in the Assembly and delighted all of us that a Head of State is ready to answer parliamentary questions. That does not happen every day.

We have nine questions we should like to put to you. I believe three of them exist in writing and in the meantime we have had notice of the substance of the others.

I call Mr Hofer, and would ask him to put the entire question, since it has not been distributed.

Mr HOFER (Switzerland) (translation)

Mr President, I would like to put two questions connected with the Belgrade Conference which Mr Kirchschläger mentioned in his speech, and which was, after all, called in order to give the partner states some opportunity of exchanging ideas on improving reciprocal relations.

My first question is rather general. Does the President of the Republic of Austria share the view that the flow of free information between East and West is a decisive factor in improving reciprocal relations?

My second, more specific and detailed question is: Does Mr Kirchschläger think that in spite of evident resistance from the East, Austria is ready – at the CSCE Conference – to support my country’s proposal that after the Belgrade Conference a meeting of experts should be convened to draw up a statute guaranteeing satisfactory working conditions throughout Europe for foreign correspondents?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

I certainly share Mr Hofer’s view that the flow of information between East and West is one of the conditions for real co-operation in Europe, which is the aim of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

As regards the second question concerning the Swiss proposal to convene a meeting of experts following the Belgrade Conference, Austria has supported it. But I would like to point out that in my opinion we should first try to come to an agreement on this question within the Council of Europe.

As far as I know there already exists a Council of Europe draft convention. I have, however, heard nothing about it in Vienna at least for the past year. It seems to me that this draft, as it existed about a year ago, is so good that we should first of all agree on it among ourselves and then – and I believe this would be a sphere in which to exert our efforts – once the twenty of us are agreed, we can present a united front to our discussion partners at Belgrade.

Sir John RODGERS (United Kingdom)

The Belgrade meeting on the implementation of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe has now entered its last stage with the difficult task of trying to work out a final document to which all participants can agree. Knowing the keen interest and active role that Austria has played during all stages of the CSCE negotiations, both before and after the Helsinki document, I would be most interested to know from His Excellency, the President of the Austrian Republic, the answers to two questions.

First, how does Austria, as a neutral and non- aligned country, consider the development of political co-operation and co-ordination with regard to the CSCE between the various Western European groupings, such as members of EEC and NATO, as well as neutral and non-aligned countries and the Council of Europe in particular?

Second, to what extent has Austria improved co-operation with her Eastern European neighbours, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, as well as with Yugoslavia as a result – a direct result, I hope – of the Helsinki agreements?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

It is a major concern of Austria to arrive at an agreed document. That was so in Helsinki, it was so in Belgrade. We have done our best to make our contribution to this and we are still doing so. We have always tried to take account of all points of view in our activities.

Personally, it has always seemed to me a great pity – I felt this as far back as the preparations for Helsinki – that the representatives of Council of Europe member states were not prepared to hold joint preliminary discussions before the start of the official meetings of the CSCE. I tried at the time in Helsinki, at an informal dinner to bring about such joint meeting of all the representatives of Council of Europe member states but I did not succeed.

These efforts are my answer to you. I think an exchange of views in the Council of Europe is necessary and should take place as occasion requires, not merely during the six-monthly meetings of the Committees of Ministers in connection with one of the five, six or eight items on its agenda.

I think that for Austria’s occasional efforts at mediation during these conferences in Helsinki or Belgrade, contacts with the representatives of individual groups, whether from EEC or from the Eastern European states are necessary. But I do not believe that Austria as such needs to have direct contacts with EEC or with NATO for the purpose of an exchange of views. The Council of Europe is the appropriate body for this and it should be active not only in Strasbourg but also in Helsinki and Belgrade.

As to the second question, that of bilateral relations with Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia, let me say that towards the end of the 50s it was Austria that pointed out that the problems of relations with the countries commonly known as Eastern European countries could not be tackled en bloc, but that they too were individual countries, for which individual treatment and bilateral solutions needed to be found.

In general we are of the opinion that bilateral relations between Austria and Hungary have already gone further than the CSCE decisions prescribe and have in many ways improved. Not in all, but in many.

With Czechoslovakia we had bilateral problems to solve which found no settlement at the CSCE, and we are now trying to improve our relations.

I believe that the CSCE is also beneficial to relations with Yugoslavia, though not decisive. What is decisive is once again a bilateral question, namely the minority question, for which a reasonable solution must be found.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr Boucheny’s question is not in writing, I believe it is in the same connection. Mr Boucheny, please...

Mr BOUCHENY (France) (translation)

The Austrian Government has repeatedly stressed the equal importance of the three “baskets” of the Helsinki Conference. It has, in particular, urged that the question of human rights should not threaten the development of détente. For that reason, Austria, like other neutral countries, was anxious to avoid the Belgrade Conference becoming an arena for sterile confrontations between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe.

Do you not consider, Mr President of the Republic, that the recent declarations made by President Carter on human rights and the ensuing controversy have had a negative effect on your efforts to bring about co-operation and mutual understanding?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

Mr Boucheny is right. Austria has always attached particular importance to Basket 3 because since 1946-47, and still more since 1955-56, it has been Austria’s policy to pay special attention to individuals and the fate of individuals.

Throughout these decades we have pursued this policy in which the emphasis is on the individual and we are still pursuing it in the conviction that our policy will only be credible if we really guarantee the right of each individual to the freedoms we call human rights – fundamental freedoms – and if we shelter those about whom we believe that they clearly do not have these rights.

It is on the basis of this policy that Austria grants asylum. And I am convinced that Basket 3 was correctly described in Helsinki as a package that will help to further peace and co-operation in Europe.

Contradictory views will inevitably be expressed in political discussions between representatives of different social systems. In Austria we have always adopted the principle: no verbal confrontation, but practical assistance for those who need it. This continues to be our attitude, and in Belgrade too we proceeded on those lines.

I believe I have answered the essential points of your question.

Mr JESSEL (United Kingdom)

Following your references to direct elections in the European Community and their implications for the Council of Europe, Mr Kirchschläger, may I ask you whether any consideration has been given in Austria to the question of direct elections to our own body, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and whether you would be willing to express any opinion on this point?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

I think they would be most annoyed with me in Austria if I anticipated the decision as to whether there should also be direct elections to the Council of Europe, since, as far as Austria is concerned, that is a decision for Parliament and the National and Federal Councils, and certainly not for the President.

But under the Austrian Constitution the decision on the other questions I have answered today does not rest with me either. I have merely given you my personal opinion.

As I was trying to say in my speech from the rostrum, we must see the direct elections to the European Parliament as something which does not come from us but at whose stimulating effect we ought to rejoice. I hesitated to say that we should simply decide to do the same thing in the Parliamentary Assembly but, it seems to me – though I am not the adviser of the members of the Assembly – that we ought to work out a way that suits ourselves. As long as on the grounds of its powers as defined in the Statute the Parliamentary Assembly depends on national parliaments to translate its ideas into reality, since it can make no legislation here, it seems to me advisable to preserve a personal link between the members of the Assembly here in Strasbourg and the members of national parliaments.

That is – I stress – my personal opinion and not my country’s opinion, but I think a Federal President can sometimes have a personal opinion.

Mr BRUGNON (France) (translation)

My question, Mr President of the Republic, is closely akin to another which was asked earlier.

Austria, together with other neutral countries, pursues an open and constructive policy of cooperation and dialogue between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe.

What assessment can you make of the results of this concerted approach adopted by the neutral countries? What are, in your view, its positive contributions to the process of détente, in particular in the realm of disarmament and confidence-building measures?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

The agreement between the neutral countries has the advantage that it is easier for us to find our bearings but is not a binding agreement. We have no wish to form a bloc of neutrals, but we believe that it is useful to exchange views from time to time in the process of détente and that we must necessarily seek to follow the same or at least a similar path.

As far as disarmament is concerned I do not think that Austria can do much. I personally always believe that the prerequisite for disarmament is a relationship of trust – trust between those partners who are really competent to discuss military matters. Moreover, this relationship of trust must not be an emotional one, but one founded on facts.

A neutral country like Austria can at most offer its very modest services in establishing a relationship of trust. At present, however, when the big blocs have direct contact with each other, there is no part the neutral states can usefully play.

Sir Frederic BENNETT (United Kingdom)

The President of the Austrian Republic paid tribute to the work of this Council and we were very proud to hear it. He also reaffirmed Austria’s faith in the Council. The President, too, paid tribute to the work of EEC and particularly to work of parliamentary members. We all know why Austria felt that it was inapplicable and inappropriate for her to join EEC, but we are now living in a time of expansion of the European Communities. Many other countries are being included in EEC. Although it was never envisaged that Austria should join, is there, irrespective of Austria’s policy, any legal power preventing her from joining? Is there some more profound constitutional reason why Austria should not join? Is there anything in the Treaty of Rome that would permit Austria to enter if she wished to do so?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

By its very nature EEC is a supranational organisation. In other words when EEC is fully operative, the decisions are taken by its organs.

In our opinion this would not be compatible with the duties of permanent neutrality, for the permanently neutral state must also be in a position to make its own decisions, in any case at a time of armed conflict, and indeed to take decisions on all questions – even in the economic field for which it has responsibility vis-à-vis the warring states.

It is above all the supranational nature of the European Communities which prevents Austria from becoming a member. I also believe that the special task and role of permanent neutrality assumed by Austria on the basis of its geographical position would be endangered by such membership.

We are very glad that, in contrast to the period between the first and second world wars, we have a task to fulfil which is based on our neutrality. We believe that this is also the guarantee of our existence and of our security. But I do not believe that this is a problem that can be done away with by a clause in the Treaty of Rome.

Mr GRANT (United Kingdom)

The President has really answered the question that I intended to ask. I should like to tell him, as Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary and Public Relations Committee of the Council of Europe, how much my committee enjoyed our recent visit to Vienna and how much we appreciated the excellent arrangements made by Mr Karasek. The question I intended to ask was this: the President spoke favourably of direct elections but stressed Austria’s traditional policy of neutrality. Does he anticipate that there will be a widening of EEC in the years ahead? Would he, from a position of neutrality, welcome such a widening, and if it did happen would he consider the possibility that the character of EEC might change sufficiently to enable Austria to reconcile her policy of neutrality with membership of a much wider EEC?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

I am glad that Mr Grant has happy memories of his visit to Vienna. I am sorry we did not have a chance to meet there.

I find it difficult to answer his question. I am no futurologist and I am very much afraid that there are so many “ifs” in his question that I cannot answer it with a clear “yes” or “no”.

Perhaps I might just say this. We do not live in a static world. If we cast our minds back, we shall see that much has changed in the past twenty years. Inside Europe, inside the European Communities and inside the Council of Europe, ideas and practice have not always corresponded.

We do not know how things will develop. But one thing is certain. That is that Austria will, on the one hand, do everything possible towards European integration while preserving her neutrality, and on the other, the qualified independence which in the joint discussions between Switzerland, Austria and Sweden we considered the condition for neutrality will be preserved. Precisely where the way lies, I do not know.

Mr CERMOLACCE (France) (translation)

Because of its geographical position and history, Austria is in a privileged position for establishing relations of co-operation between the Western nations and the countries of Eastern Europe. The Austrian Government has pronounced itself in favour of concrete projects in the field of economic co-operation between countries with different social systems in the context of the follow-up to the Helsinki Conference.

What prospects does your government discern for the success of the proposals which it put forward on holding pan-European conferences on energy, transport and the environment?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

In principle Austria has always favoured specific treatment for the problems of transport and the environment because we are convinced that we should build as many bridges as possible between countries with different social systems and that we should spin as many threads as possible on which to hang firm and lasting cooperation. It is then a matter of personal choice whether these specific problems are dealt with at a separate conference or whether the existing and excellent institutions of EEC are used for the purpose. In my view this is of secondary importance. But Austria will certainly always ' favour discussion of the widest possible range of questions of international, I might almost say, daily life.

Mr BOURGEOIS (France) (translation)

Following the visit of representatives of the Hungarian Government to Vienna, Mr President of the Federal Republic, a joint communiqué was issued stressing the exemplary character of Austro-Hungarian relations.

Do you consider that these relations between your country and Hungary might serve as a model for future bonds of co-operation designed to unite the countries of Eastern and Western Europe? And do you take the view that the development of human contacts between Austria and Hungary foreshadows changes of a positive nature by the governments of Eastern Europe as regards the freedom of movement of their citizens, or do you attribute it to the special features of the Hungarian situation?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

During my visit to Hungary last year we quite advisedly described, in a communiqué, relations between Austria and Hungary as exemplary – indeed we could have said a “pattern” – for relations between states with two different social systems. And I think we were right to do so because in our dealings with each other the strict formalities often customary in dealings between states with different social systems were hardly in evidence.

But I would hesitate to suggest that all the countries of the West should copy Austro-Hungarian relations in dealings with all the countries of the East, or simply adopt the same pattern. This does not seem possible to me because we all know that international relations – even relations between the countries assembled here in the Council of Europe – depend on many things, on history, geographical situation and in human terms on family ties. Relations between Austria and Hungary are, I believe, exemplary, but I hesitate to say that they can be copied lock, stock and barrel.

It seems to me that the positive development we have encountered in Hungary may also be encountered elsewhere to a lesser extent, sometimes even to the same extent, in other Eastern European states. But it may be that bilateral questions have more force and carry more weight than an overall trend.

Mr LEWIS (United Kingdom)

In introducing His Excellency, the President of the Austrian Republic, you, Mr President, quite rightly paid a very high tribute to his personal record in power. My question follows upon that and I know that I shall have a sympathetic response to it. I ask the President whether, as a general rule, in his own opinion and probably in the opinion of Austria also, every person of any country should be allowed freedom to leave his or her country at any time, subject of course to that person’s having broken no law and providing there is no legal impediment, and to settle in any other country – again, obviously, subject to that country granting admission? Would Austria generally acknowledge that premise?

Following upon that, on the question of human rights, does His Excellency the President agree that it is incumbent upon all democrats to stand up for human rights, as he has done in the past, and that that not only may but should mean that parliamentarians and democrats generally, and particularly their governments, ought to condemn any infringement of human rights, even by a country with whom they have friendly relations, obviously subject to not interfering with the internal arrangements and political activities of that country; and that that country should not use – and I emphasise the word “use” – the hoary old chestnut that to pass such adverse comment is to interfere with the internal administration of that country?

My point, briefly, is: would we not all make much more progress if, on occasions, we could criticise constructively when we feel that a country is doing wrong in relation to human rights, even though that country may be one of our best friends?

Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Republic of Austria (translation)

I take it that Mr Lewis’s first question was a rhetorical one. Naturally I agree that every individual should have the right to leave his country, provided he has not committed a criminal offence.

As regards the second question, the question on human rights, I tried to make it clear in my speech that we need to begin by setting an example. To wage a campaign for human rights without providing a shining example of respect for human rights in one’s own country will be seen as political propaganda and will have no real effect. All of us, whatever our office, must be the guardians of human rights in our own countries. We can then offer to relay them to other places.

Moreover, I believe that Brecht’s words: “Es gibt nichts Gutes, außer man tut es” (There is nothing good unless you do it) apply to human rights as they do to all matters about which there is much discussion.

I also believe, particularly in respect of human rights, that we must guarantee them, we must respect them, we must guard them in our own countries. A shining example – once it exists – will shed its light in all directions. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

The answer to the last question seems to me the proper note on which to end.

If I now say that we all have the feeling that Mr Kirchschläger still belongs to this Parliamentary Assembly, that by no means detracts from the esteem and respect in which we hold the Head of the Austrian State. Thank you, Mr Kirchschläger, most sincerely for telling us your views and for answering our questions.

(Mr Kirchschläger, President of the Austrian Republic, left the Chamber to general applause.)