Analysts trust that the outside policy in the Balkans won’t change despite some observers raising concerns about the future political heading of Austria’s new conservative government.

Austria
A demonstrator holds a poster 'Nazis out of the parliament' amid a demonstration preceding the swearing-in service of the new Austrian government drove by a conservative and a nationalist party in Vienna, Austria, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017.

Austria's new government, made up of the center-right People's Party and the far-right Freedom Party, has just been the subject of warnings that it may stray from European values, however analysts said they don't expect significant shifts in the way the nation treats the Balkans. Milos Solaja from the Center for International Relations from Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina revealed to BIRN that he's not expecting visible changes in Austria's policy towards the Balkans, where it is politically and financially dynamic.

"First of all, they offered help in the process of Euro-coordination both in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, they are also greatly dynamic monetarily in this district. Austria is the largest investor in Bosnia and Herzegovina," Solaja clarified.

"What we can expect is that Austria pledges to quicken the way to the EU for the countries of the Western Balkans," he said.

Austria's People's Party and the far-right Freedom Party concurred this end of the week to shape an administration, implying that, as per Politico, Austria is the main Western European state with a legislature that includes a hostile to foreigner, populist compel.

The Freedom Party is Eurosceptic as well as being known for its against-Muslim views.

"The Freedom Party, whose last invasion into government in 2000 sparked censure from Austria's EU partners, has played with against European positions for quite a long time and considers France's National Front a close partner," Politico said.

However, Solaja noticed that the leader of the People's Party, Sebastian Kurz, is notable for his stances on outside affairs, so unexpected should not be seen.

"So I don't trust he will let them [the Freedom Party] escape a pre-masterminded, expansive political system… That is the reason I don't trust that there will be a sudden and steep shift in politics. Changes will come bit by bit," he said.

The People's Party is also an individual from the European People's Party, the container European collusion of which numerous Balkan political parties are members or associate members. Marko Kmezic, a senior researcher at the Center for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria, revealed to BIRN that it is not clear who will lead the new government's outside policy since the ministries of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs have now been isolated.

"So Prime Minister Kurz will keep on leading Austrian European policy, firstly to impact the imminent Austrian presidency of the European Union, while the FPO [Freedom Party] will assume control over the arrangement of outside affairs," Kmezic said.

He included this could imply that Kurz's party will have the most effect on the Balkan countries' European perspective, describing this as "the best-case scenario in which there will be no changes in Austrian politics towards the Balkans".

The pioneer of the far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, has expressed views which would stress some communities in the Balkans.

Strache said in a meeting in February with Radio Television Republika Srpska, the general population broadcaster in Bosnia's basically Serb element, that "Serbs and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina should have the privilege to self-assurance and this privilege should not be denied to anybody".

Kmezic also noticed that the Freedom Party transparently supports the pioneer of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, and his require a potential submission on secession.

"Moreover, this party is in neighborly relations with the United Russia [party] of Vladimir Putin, and is straightforwardly spreading Serbian nationalist talk keeping in mind the end goal to win the certainty of Serb voters with Austrian citizenship," he said.

"This means a difference in Austrian outside policy towards Kosovo is possible, however given that it's been declared that negotiations on the standardization of relations amongst Serbia and Kosovo are be finished in 2019, and the way that Austria has effectively perceived Kosovo's freedom, I don't see much space for serious obstruction," he included.

BIRN sent questions to the Freedom Party about its position on the Balkans, yet got no answers when of distribution.

Kurz controversially showed up at a decision rally for Macedonia's troubled VMRO DPMNE party in November 2016, backing the party in that year's uncommon general elections in the midst of a political crisis, despite allegations of authoritarianism and mass unlawful surveillance, and saying that the VMRO DPMNE was an underwriter of Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic future.

The VMRO DPMNE left office in May this year, supplanted by the star European Social Democrats, and some of its principle figures are currently under scrutiny for affirmed abnormal state crimes.

Despite the decision episode, the Social Democrats' pioneer, Zoran Zaev, complimented Kurz last month on his triumph, while a Macedonian outside ministry statement noticed that "Austria is Macedonia's best investor and staunch supporter on its street to EU membership".

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, whose decision Serbian Progressive Party is an associate individual from the European People's Party, also praised Kurz on Monday.

"I am sure that through future participation, we will add to the becoming political and monetary relations between our two countries, and be persuaded that Serbia remains a companion and solid accomplice of Austria," Vucic said.

With Austria employing substantial monetary power in the Balkans, outside policy developments in Vienna will be closely viewed from Belgrade and the various Balkan capitals, despite the fact that analysts trust the status quo is probably going to proceed.

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Petros Stathis

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