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03:30

Austria: Strache accuses Kurz of breaking his word during Ibiza Affair *EXCLUSIVE* *PARTNER CONTENT*

Austria, Vienna
August 11, 2019 at 09:57 GMT +00:00 · Published

Former Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) leader Heinz-Christian Strache accused ex-Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of breaking his apparent promise that the Austrian coalition government would continue to rule together in the wake of the Ibiza Affair. He made the comments during an exclusive interview with RT Deutsch in Vienna on August 6, his first since the fall of the Austrian government.

Strache, who was vice chancellor at the time, accused Kurz of breaking his reported word that the FPO-People's Party (OVP) coalition would continue for a period of time if he were to step down.

"The reality is, I was evidently given the promise - and I experienced this - from the chancellor's side that if I resign, this would give this well-functioning government some time [to continue]," said Strache.

After Strache resigned from both his posts, Kurz then dismissed the FPO Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, after he refused to resign. The remaining FPO ministers then resigned in solidarity as they had previously threatened to do.

"He [Kurz] said on the phone that things have changed now and he also asked Minister of Interior Herbert Kickl to resign," Strache recounted.

If the minister didn't resign, it would have been reason enough for Kurz to unilaterally put an end to the government, Strache added.

"This shows clearly that there was a development here, in which one can surely see, one has the impression that someone was trying to strategically capitalise on this video," he said.

After the collapse of the coalition government Kurz went on to lose a no-confidence vote called for by the opposition.

The fall of the government followed the emergence of a video in German media which apparently shows Strache and his fellow FPO member Johann Gudenus meeting in Ibiza with the supposed niece of a Russian oligarch and encouraging her to buy Austria's largest newspaper, offering access to government projects in exchange for favourable election coverage and campaign funds.

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Former Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) leader Heinz-Christian Strache accused ex-Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of breaking his apparent promise that the Austrian coalition government would continue to rule together in the wake of the Ibiza Affair. He made the comments during an exclusive interview with RT Deutsch in Vienna on August 6, his first since the fall of the Austrian government.

Strache, who was vice chancellor at the time, accused Kurz of breaking his reported word that the FPO-People's Party (OVP) coalition would continue for a period of time if he were to step down.

"The reality is, I was evidently given the promise - and I experienced this - from the chancellor's side that if I resign, this would give this well-functioning government some time [to continue]," said Strache.

After Strache resigned from both his posts, Kurz then dismissed the FPO Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, after he refused to resign. The remaining FPO ministers then resigned in solidarity as they had previously threatened to do.

"He [Kurz] said on the phone that things have changed now and he also asked Minister of Interior Herbert Kickl to resign," Strache recounted.

If the minister didn't resign, it would have been reason enough for Kurz to unilaterally put an end to the government, Strache added.

"This shows clearly that there was a development here, in which one can surely see, one has the impression that someone was trying to strategically capitalise on this video," he said.

After the collapse of the coalition government Kurz went on to lose a no-confidence vote called for by the opposition.

The fall of the government followed the emergence of a video in German media which apparently shows Strache and his fellow FPO member Johann Gudenus meeting in Ibiza with the supposed niece of a Russian oligarch and encouraging her to buy Austria's largest newspaper, offering access to government projects in exchange for favourable election coverage and campaign funds.

SOT, Heinz-Christian Strache, former Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) leader (German): "Consequently he [Kurz] said on the phone that things have changed now and he also asked Minister of Interior Herbert Kickl to resign. If the minister doesn't resign, that would be reason enough for him to unilaterally put an end to the government. And he did that as a result. This shows clearly that there was a development here, in which one can surely see, one has the impression that someone was trying to strategically capitalise on this video. And this is a video which was made two years before it came under the scrutiny of the public eye and it was put out 10 days before an EU meeting through foreign channels, through the Sueddeutsche and Spiegel by so-called investigative journalists, who not only tried to topple a functioning government but also damage my political reputation." *MULTIPLE SHOTS AT SOURCE*

SOT, Heinz-Christian Strache, former Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) leader (German): "The reality is, I was evidently given the promise - and I experienced this - from the chancellor's side that if I resign, this would give this well-functioning government some time. Afterwards my deputy, my right hand Dr. Norbert Hofer was invited by him in order to sustain a functioning government as the future vice chancellor. [...] I don't know what happened with him in the hour of my statement on Saturday, May 18 at 12.00. But I cannot grasp [the idea] that in this period of time from 12.00 to 13.00 that his thinking completely changed. Something must have happened then and this was perhaps a long-term strategy." *MULTIPLE SHOTS AT SOURCE*

SOT, Heinz-Christian Strache, former Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) leader (German): "As I said, I found out about the existence of this video from the media by myself. It also needs to be investigated and checked as to what extent these claimed emails from one newspaper are somehow critically questioned, whether they are real or not. Such proofing, can of course, then either determine the authenticity or a forgery. That is what we're currently waiting for. It's truly a scandal for me. If the emails were authentic and if we would have known that the state chancellor knew about the video for a longer time, and would not have confronted me - he should of course have brought the national political responsibility with him. What the chancellor learned from such a video, we don't know.

[...] Then, of course, there would have been a responsibility to use the confrontation and to clarify this also in the sense of state political responsibility." *MULTIPLE SHOTS AT SOURCE*

SOT, Heinz-Christian Strache, former Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) leader (German): "I have had nothing to do with illegal drugs during my life, also definitely not used any. That [allegation that I have] was always consistently denied. And I can say with certainty, that during this evening meal, at this Ibiza meeting, with certainty, no drugs were taken. I would have seen that."

Interviewer: "No illegal ..."

Heinz-Christian Strache: "I would have got up and left by then, and I will always reject this [allegation]." *MULTIPLE SHOTS AT SOURCE*

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