Culture, Media, Science
Chancellor Schüssel: 800 additional apprenticeship places for the young
The federal government and some entities spun off will make available 800 additional apprenticeship places for young people. This was announced by Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel after the session of the Council of Ministers on 21 September 2004. “It is our aim to support the apprenticeship campaign led by Egon Blum. With this measure, the federal administration and its enterprises make a long-term contribution to a first-class training of young people”, stressed Schüssel. Moreover, this meant that another decision adopted at the government’s recent meeting was implemented.
Currently, about 200 apprentices are undergoing training under the federal government’s direct purview. Entities spun off like the Austrian Railways (ÖBB) and the universities are responsible for 1,630 apprentices. As from 2005 a total of about 2,600 new apprenticeship places will be offered. According to Schüssel, this is the highest level in ten years.
In concrete figures, about 800 additional apprenticeship places are created. Entities spun off such as the federal forestry administration, the Austrian Statistical Office or the federal theatres, will provide another 140 apprenticeship places. These openings are created in cooperation with all ministries. Training focuses on IT and communications, electronics and electrical engineering, technical and mechanical services, laboratory and environmental technologies as well as administration. ■
Regional election in Vorarlberg: absolute majority for ÖVP
At the regional elections of Vorarlberg on 19 September 2004, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) – chaired by Governor Herbert Sausgruber – received almost 55% of the valid votes (plus approx. 9 percentage points) and thus regained the absolute majority. Suffering great losses, the Freedom Party (FPÖ) became the third political force in Vorarlberg after the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ). The Greens registered a significant increase in votes. The voter turnout was 60%.
Provincial Governor Sausgruber explained that his success was due to the fact that the policy of the People’s Party had obviously met with wide acceptance in Vorarlberg. Exploratory talks with the other parties have been started. Although it had an absolute majority of seats in Vorarlberg’s regional parliament from 1945 to 1999, the ÖVP has never formed a sole government.
The results in detail:
Voter turnout: 60.2%
ÖVP: 54.9% (+9.2%)/21 seats (+3)
SPÖ: 16.9% (+3.9%)/6 seats (+1)
FPÖ: 12.9% (-14.5%)/5 seats (-6)
Greens 10.2% (+4.1%)/4 seats (+2) ■
Nationalrat: Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner bade farewell
The resumption of business after the summer break of the Nationalrat (Lower House) on 22 September 2004 was under the impact of Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner’s resignation. Some weeks before moving to Brussels, Austria’s Foreign Minister and designated EU Commissioner (for External Relations) reviewed her nine-year tenure and concluded: “I think that I can turn over my office in good order and condition for Austria’s position is excellent“. The opposition unanimously extended its congratulations to her. The decision about her successor in the Foreign Ministry will be taken within the next weeks.
It had been the ten most important years for Austria since 1945. And she had been lucky to be able to participate in shaping this epoch, said Ferrero-Waldner. She described the introduction of the euro and joining the Schengen area after Austria’s EU accession as “milestones” in her work for the Foreign Ministry. She had mastered the period of the EU sanctions against Austria with “firmness“, stated the future EU Commissioner and underlined her commitment to development cooperation and human rights education. Ferrero-Waldner explained that the priorities of her work in the EU Commission would be the EU Constitution as well as the consolidation and continuation of enlargement.
Chancellor Schüssel reminded of the fact that she had “fought incredibly for Austria in the period of the sanctions“. He said that it was “highly satisfying and just that the honour of this country is re-established with Ferrero-Waldner’s appointment“ and that she would govern the Union’s external relations in the future. ■
Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross pays official visit to Austria
On 24 September 2004 new Czech Prime Minister Stanis¬lav Gross paid an official one-day visit to Austria, where he met with Federal President Heinz Fischer, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and President of the Nationalrat (Lower House of Parliament) Andreas Khol. The talks focused on bilateral issues and the current debate about Turkey’s EU accession.
Concerning the indemnification of the German minority, Gross stated that this was a “Czech-Czech issue”. In the current discussion about a “humanitarian gesture“ no consensus has been reached. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda from Prague recently proposed to indemnify Germans who had fought against the National Socialists and were then allowed to stay in Czechia after WWII.
Federal Chancellor Schüssel stated that the relations between Vienna and Prague were characterised by “intensive friendly continuity”. Above all, regional cooperation and close cooperation at the EU level would be continued and intensified. Gross showed understanding for the transition periods on the labour market. Interna¬tional obligations had to be met. “We understand that each process has its own rules”, said the Czech Prime Minister. At the same time, he expressed his appreciation for what Austria had done. Schüssel added that “thousands of Czech citizens” were working in Austria already now. Moreover, a treaty about cross-frontier commuters had been submitted to Parliament.
The Czech Republic was in favour of Turkey’s EU accession. “Turkey should have a European future”, said Gross. The Federal Chancellor repeated Austria’s position: “We wait for the Commission reports”.
An official invitation to Prague was extended to Schüssel. ■
Federal President Heinz Fischer visited Slovenia
On 15 September 2004 Austria’s Federal President Heinz Fischer visited Slovenia. Among the items on his agenda were talks with Slovene President Janez Drnovsek at Brdo Palace near Kranj as well as with the head of government, Anton Rop, and President of Parliament Feri Horvat in the Slovene capital Ljubljana.
Discussed were the bilateral relations, international issues and questions regarding the European Constitution, EU regional policy and the situation in South Eastern Europe.
Both sides praised the excellent relations between the two countries and emphasised the promising outlook for future cooperation. ■
Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner met with UN Secretary-General Annan in New York
The meeting of Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 24 September 2004 was marked by her resignation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vienna and the imminent change to the EU Commission in Brussels. Austria and the UN wished to intensify and extend their very good relations, informed her speaker Astrid Harz about the talks after the meeting. Ferrero-Waldner had congratulated Annan to his speech at the opening ceremony of the 59th General Assembly. “Law has to be the basis of an international system creating peace and security“, said the Foreign Minister. This had also been the idea of the founders of the United Nations.
In her last speech given as Austria’s representative to the United Nations one day earlier, Ferrero-Waldner underlined Austria’s commitment to “common action” in global politics and called upon the member states to comply with international law. ■
South Tyrol summit in Vienna
A South Tyrol summit chaired by Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner was held at the Federal Chancellery on 16 September 2004, in which inter alia South Tyrol’s Governor Luis Durnwalder, Chairman of the South Tyrolian People’s Party Elmar Pichler and President of Nationalrat Andreas Khol participated.
Deliberations concentrated on the envisaged reform of federalism in Italy, some aspects of which could threaten South Tyrol’s autonomy. Ferrero-Waldner assured South Tyrol Austria’s “unwavering support” in accordance with its obligations under the Paris Treaty. ■
OMV Supervisory Board basically approved capital increase
The Supervisory Board of the listed mineral oil group OMV AG endorsed the previous decision of the general meeting of shareholders to increase the capital stock and basically approved a capital increase by issuing up to 5 million shares. This was announced by OMV Supervisory Board Chairman and ÖIAG CEO Rainer Wieltsch at the Club of Economic Journalists on 24 September 2004.
This year the OMV general meeting of shareholders approved an equity capital increase of up to 8 million shares until 2009.
The OMV Executive Board was now able to define the details of the capital increase, explained Wieltsch, who implied again that the state holding ÖIAG would not take part in the capital increase. Wieltsch does not expect a more detailed motion of the Executive Board to increase the capital before the closing of the Petrom deal scheduled for the 4th quarter.
Currently, the Austrian energy group OMV is transacting the largest acquisition in its corporate history: the purchase of a majority stake in the Romanian oil concern Petrom for 1.5 billion euro. Other large investments are planned to be made in the gas infrastructure and refinery sectors. The OMV is Austria’s largest listed industrial group. The majority owner is the state holding ÖIAG (35%).
On the occasion of his visit to the OMV refinery in Schwe¬chat on 16 September 2004, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel described the enterprise as “one of the key players of Austria’s economy with an international profile”.
The Federal Chancellor had also advocated the recent acquisition of the Romanian petrol producer Petrom. Enterprises were supported when international lobbying was necessary, said Schüssel. “Like almost all companies in which the ÖIAG holds a share, OMV is highly profitable and nowadays distributes dividends to the state, whereas a few years ago we had to make up for losses. Our strategy of non-intervention in the enterprises has proven to be right. The economy does not need any interference from politics“, stated the Federal Chancellor.
Schüssel drew attention to the significant investment activities of OMV. The investments planned for the site Schwechat proved that the economic sector had confidence in the future. “The upswing is taking shape”, said Schüssel. There were “no question marks at all” concerning the owner structure of OMV, stressed the Federal Chancellor. ■
VA Tech: green light for capital increase
The shareholders of VA Technologie (VA Tech) authorised a capital increase in a special meeting of shareholders on 21 September 2004. On this basis, the Supervisory Board could adopt a final decision on the capital increase already on 29 September 2004 and realise it still in the current year. The issue price will probably be over 45 euro, explained VA Tech CEO Klaus Sernetz. The enterprise expects inflows of up to 200 million euro. ■
Martin Huber new ÖBB boss
On 23 September 2004 the Supervisory Board of the Austrian Federal Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen/ÖBB) unanimously elected the previous CEO of the construction group Porr, Martin Huber (44), as chairman of the Managing Board of the new ÖBB holding. The previous ÖBB boss Rüdiger vorm Walde will assume the office of Managing Director for Passenger Transport as from 2005. ■
Tiroler Riedel Glas acquires German glass producer Nachtmann
The old-established Austrian enterprise Riedel Glas in Kufstein (Tyrol) took over the German glass producer Nachtmann & Spiegelau with effect 17 September 2004. With now 1,900 employees, total sales of 220 million euro are to be achieved this year, announced Riedel on 20 September 2004.
F.X. Nachtmann AG produces at five sites in Bavaria hand-made and machine-produced crystal goblets and giftware. With 1,500 employees and an output of 50 million pieces, it registered annual sales totalling 120 million euro. The 170-year old enterprise is also the owner of the brands Nacht¬mann, Spiegelau and Marc Aurel. ■
Linz: official application for European Capital of Culture 2009
Upper Austria’s Governor Josef Pühringer and the city fathers of Linz – Mayor Franz Dobusch and Vice-Mayor and Cultural Officer Erich Watzl – submitted the official application of Linz for European Capital of Culture 2009 to Secretary of State for the Arts Franz Morak on 13 September 2004. The application had been “presented in a determined and professional way”, informed Morak, who considered this an opportunity of earning an EU-wide reputation. Linz has been the only Austrian city to submit an application in this competition. Talks with the partner city Vilnius (Lithuania), which is expected to be the second Cultural Capital 2009, have been scheduled for October. A decision is likely to be taken in Brussels in early 2006.
Linz will present itself as a “laboratory of the future”. With the Ars Electronica festival, the city has made a name for itself all over the world as a competence centre and the capital of European media arts. Arguments in favour of Linz as a Cultural Capital are the city’s network of cultural facilities and institutions, among them prestigious attractions like the Lentos Museum for Modern Art as well as the International Bruckner festival and the Sound Cloud. In the near future a new music theatre will be built. “Culture for everybody” is practised inter alia by the street festival “Pflasterspektakel“ and the “Festival of Regions“. Linz estimates the cost of developing an attractive cultural programme for 2009 at 60 to 70 million euro, with the federal government, the provincial government and the city financing each one third. ■
Venice Biennial 2005: Hans Schabus will represent Austria
Max Hollein, who was recently appointed curator of Austria’s contribution to the Venice Biennial 2005, has made his choice: the artist Hans Schabus born in Carinthia in 1970 and living in Vienna is to create“ a physical and mental re-dimensioning of space” and a “critical analysis of the place” (Hollein) in the Hoffmann Pavilion of the Giardini. In 2003 Schabus was in charge of the re-design of Vienna Secession, for which he has won wide renown. According to Hollein, Schabus “clearly addressed the individual” with his poetic and powerful photos, videos and installatio¬ns – something that has been lacking in the politics-oriented art discourse of the recent years. Secretary of State Morak hopes that the subversive power of Schabus will cause a stir in Venice. On 20 November the artist will start to transform the Kunsthaus in Bregenz into a “complex, entangled architectural and mental course of the discovery of one’s ego“. ■
Koller prize: State Prize for Improvised Music goes to Mantler
The (ramified) Hans Koller prize – a joint project by the Federal Chancellery, the City of Vienna, Bank Austria, Thomastik Infeld and the Austrian Music Office – was named after the Vienna-born, legendary jazz composer and saxophonist Hans Koller. The prize offered for the “musician of the year” by the Federal Chancellery is awarded every four years as the “Austrian State Prize for Improvised Music”. It has been granted for the first time in 2004 going to the composer and trumpeter Michael Mantler. He was born in Vienna in 1943, studied the trumpet and musicology in Vienna and the USA. Belonging to New York’s avant-garde, he performed inter alia with Cecil Taylor. In 1968 he founded the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra Association (JCOA) to commission, publish and present new compositions for jazz orchestras. In 1972 he established the New Mu¬sic Distribution Service, which supported many independent disc labels. In 1974 he founded his own company WATT. Later he made numerous recordings, e.g. with the Carla Bley Band. He has been living in Copenhagen since 1991. Among Mantler’s works are recordings of songs with lyrics by Samuel Beckett (“No Answer“), Harold Pinter (“Silence“), Edward Gorey (“The Hapless Child“) or Paul Auster (“Hide and Seek“) as well as the multi-media music theatre work “The School of Languages“.
The European Jazz Prize 2004 is conferred on the pianist Esbjörn Svensson born in Västeras (Sweden) in 1964, whose trio is one of today’s most innovative jazz bands. The trumpeter Lorenz Raab was selected as the Newcomer of the Year and the percussionist Ingrid Oberkanins as the Sidewoman of the Year. “Day Dream“ by Herwig Gradischnig and Oliver Kent became the CD of the Year. ■
Jazz festival at Porgy & Bess in Vienna: Serbia and Montenegro
Vienna’s Porgy & Bess is presenting the festival “Step across the border: Serbia-Montenegro“ until 2 October 2004. The now independent countries previously forming part of Yugoslavia, are from a musical point of view undiscovered spots on the European “jazz map”. This does not reflect the actual artistic quality of this region of the Balkans with its highly interesting mixture of local folklorism and improvised music. The first to become famous with it was the trumpeter Dusko Gojkovic – with his classical album “Swinging Macedonia“ (1966). The Gojkovic Quintet performed on 26 September 2004. Its style has been further developed by numerous musicians representing “jazz from the Balkans”. Jovan Maljokovic will for example present his “Bal¬kan Salsa Band“ on 30 September 2004. The festival will come to an end with the Jovica Ajdarevic Brass Band. ■
Kontraste 2004: “strange music“
Since 24 September 2004 the Kontraste festival at Minoritenkirche in Krems (Lower Austria) has offered “strange music“ – extreme sound art by nonconformists, e.g. Sven-Åke Johansson’s “Ouvertüre für Handfeuerlöscher“ or Gordon Monahan’s “New and Used Furniture Music“. All participants in the Krems festival are prominent representatives of contemporary experimental sound art and critics of technology and ideology. On 25 October 2004, one day before Austria’s national holiday, “Einstürzenden Neubauten“, a band from Berlin led by music poet Blixa Bargeld, will present its new work “Grundstück“. ■
Burgtheater: Brandauer as Nathan
The German representative of Enlightenment Gotthold Ephraim Lessing is not just a statue at Vienna’s Judenplatz. His “Nathan the Wise“, the ideal of a rational, humane acting Jew in the late medieval crusaders’ state Jerusalem is currently presented on the stage of Vienna’s Burgtheater. The part is played in a subtle, calm and enigmatic way by Klaus Maria Brandauer, whose acting rich in nuances is emphasised in Nikolaus Hemleb’s simple and straight production. Without superficial modernisation, the German stage producer fully concentrates on Lessing’s text, which with its “ring parable” today is as utopian and topical as 225 years ago. Besides K. M. B., inter alia Mareike Sedl (Recha) and Peter Matić (the Patriarch) give impressive performances. Among the premiere guests were Secretary of State Franz Morak and President of Nationalrat Andreas Khol. ■
Yiddish Theatre Montreal in Vienna
Yiddish theatre groups have come to Vienna for 10 years. In the jubilee year, the Yiddish Theatre Montreal directed by Bryna Wasserman will give a guest performance at Vienna’s Theater Akzent from 9 to 14 No¬vember 2004 with the musical “Anatevka“ by Joseph Stein/Jerry Brock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) based on Sholom Aleichem’s “Tevye, the Milkman“ and with the revue “On 2nd Avenue“ by Zalmen Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld. The delightful and touching performances are given in Yiddish with German simultaneous interpretation. ■
Wittgenstein prize: Carl E. Schorske
The 2004 Ludwig Wittgenstein prize of Öster¬reichische Forschungsgemeinschaft will be presented to US cultural historian Carl E. Schorske (89) in Vienna on 1 October 2004. The high award is granted “on special occasions but no more than once a year” for outstanding achievements of a personality or an outstanding academic work. From 1946 to 1980 Schorske taught history of culture and ideas inter alia in Berkeley and Princeton. With his book “Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture“ (1980), he popularised turn-of-the-century Vienna all over the world and contributed significantly to modern Austrian historiography. A symposium will be held in honour of the prize winner at Vienna University on 1 October 2004. ■
Book Trade Prize to Erich Hackl
The author, translator and editor Erich Hackl, born in Steyr (Upper Austria) in 1954 will be awarded the prize of the Austrian book trade for tolerance in thought and action at the opening of the book festival at Vienna’s town hall on 15 November 2004. This was explained by the fact that Hackl lent a voice to people marginalised by injustice, dictatorship or human incompetence and saved them from oblivion with his literature. Among his most famous books are “Aurora’s Motive“, “Farewell Sidonia“ and “Die Hochzeit von Auschwitz“. ■
Jewish personalities on Austrian stamps
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Theodor Herzl’s death in July 2004, a stamp with his portrait will be issued by the Austrian Post Office. This is not the only Austrian stamp showing a portrait of a Jewish Austrian – numerous politicians, physicians, artists and scholars can be found on the stamps of the last few decades. Until 26 October 2004 a small exhibition at Vienna’s Jewish Museum organised in cooperation with Österreichische Post AG is presenting a cross-section of Austria’s intellectual life. Besides the stamps, sketches of Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arthur Schnitzler, Arnold Schönberg, Lise Meitner, Hans Kelsen and Bruno Kreisky are exhibited. ■
Kunstforum: Tamara de Lempicka
Until 2 January 2005 BA-CA Kunstforum is presenting the exhibition “Tamara de Lempicka – Femme fatale of Art Déco“. The painter born in Poland grew up in St. Petersburg. Her flight from the Russian revolution took her to Paris. Her paintings radiating with erotic power made her one of the most sought-after artists. Unlike any other painter she succeeded in captivating the life style of the Roaring Twenties – with her self-portrait in an open sports car of 1929 becoming a synonym of the epoch. In 1939 she emigrated to the USA. Later she influenced advertising and fashion photographers like Helmut Newton. Today her paintings are owned by Donna Karan, Madonna or Jack Nicholson. They are presented in Vienna in an exhibition organised together with the Royal Academy of Arts. ■
Vienna: luxury goods for the mass
Vienna’s Technical Museum is showing (presumably) until 31 March 2005 the exhibition “Mass production – luxury goods. Technology and design between Biedermeier and Vienna’s World Exhibition“ featuring 1,200 objects of the imperial collection. The show starts out from two key dates: the coronation of Emperor Francis I. in 1804, which was followed by the foundation of the collection, and 1873, when Vienna’s only world exhibition took place. Six sections present the “material” culture of the Hapsburg empire – from raw materials, primary and semi-finished goods to finished products. They cover also the development and processing of raw materials and supplies, changing production technologies and the social background influencing economic activities. The section “unique pieces and mass production” illustrates the development towards mechanical mass production. “Demand and luxury” shows how new production methods turned luxury goods into convenience goods for the mass. ■
Hofmobiliendepot, Vienna’s furniture museum, is presenting the exhibition “Bauhaus furniture. A legend reviewed” (until 9 January 2005). On show are furniture designs, experiments and serial production by the Bauhaus workshops operated between 1919 and 1934, originally in Weimar, later in Dessau and finally in Berlin. As described in the excellent catalogue, the “Bauhaus“ was many things at a time: a design studio, a school and workshop. Its founder Walter Gropius wanted to design practical furniture for the common people, and so did the brilliant Marcel Breuer. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe reflected about simple and clear architecture – social ideas were a major concern. The Nazis closed down Bauhaus in 1933. Its pedagogic innovations and experimental libertarian approach were spread around the globe by the Bauhaus founders exiled in the USA. Today, IKEA would for example be inconceivable with the ideas of Bauhaus. ■
Schubertiade Schwarzenberg 2005
Between 13 May and 10 September 2005 Schubertiade Schwarzenberg (Vorarlberg) will boast the world’s best programme for fans of Franz Schubert’s music. The cream of the crop will perform in orchestra and chamber concerts, piano and lieder recitals. ■
Secretariat of State for Sports and Department for Sports: new ONLINE presentation
The re-vamped homepage of the Secretariat of State for Sports and the Department for Sports of the Federal Chancellery was released on 16 September 2004. www.sport.austria.gv.at –clear, informative and re-designed – offers interesting information to all its visitors. Besides subjects related to sport, a comprehensive overview of the responsibilities of Secretary of State for Sports Karl Schweitzer is given. 27 sections (on the left-hand side) ranging from anti-doping, prizes/award ceremonies, disabled sports, federal sports institutions, Europe, subsidy accounting, areas subsidised, forms, society and sports, laws/regulations/directives, House of Sports, international cooperation, centres of excellence, links/partners, logo, school, skiing instruction, sport structure, sport science, citizenship issues, sport reports, badges for special performance, sport services, studies and events to water rescue services give users insight into the Federal Chancellery’s activities in the field of sports. Additional links (on the right-hand side) offer a useful overview of various top events (e.g. “Day of Sports“) and highly innovative projects (“Fit for Austria“, “Top Sport Austria“, “Challenge 2008“). It goes without saying that an alternative version is available for people with disabilities to allow them easy access. Secretary of State Schweitzer showed himself impressed by the comprehensive online presentation: “With this Internet offer we provide all people – young and old – with an optimum platform and an excellent insight into the manifold tasks and areas of sport“. ■
Sport and justice: innovative sport project in penal institution
On the occasion of the annual sport festival of the penal instiution Gerasdorf, the innovative sport project with the working title “sport goes prison“ was launched on 17 September 2004. The aim of the project initiated by Christine H. Seemann is to motivate young criminal offenders serving their sentence to practice sports with well-aimed sport programmes and facilitate social integration through sports after jail. After the young people are released from prison, the project management establishes contacts to Verein Neustart (an association succeeding the institution for the assistance of juvenile delinquents on probation), which introduces them to the sports association nearest to their home, accompanies them and ensures their optimal integration. Secretary of State for Sports Karl Schweitzer was enthusiastic about the idea: “The social function of sport, above all its power of social inclusion, is a key element of the daily work in sports associations. Sports associations may serve as a refuge for young people, offer them support and teach them values such as fairness, discipline and team spirit“. ■
Fourth “Day of Sports“ in Vienna
Mass and top-level sports presented themselves together at Vienna’s Heldenplatz. Sport presented itself to 120,000 enthused visitors with a ceremony paying tribute to about 200 top athletes for their achievements at world and European championships as well as other international events, the presentation of a “Hermann Maier stamp“, more than 80 “join-in stops” as well as the presentation of all umbrella and specialised sports associations. Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and Secretary of State for Sports Karl Schweitzer took advantage of this opportunity to thank the athletes and sports organisations for their great ambitions leading to extraordinary achievements. Numerous athletes winning medals in Athens were present, e.g. Kate Allen, Christian Planer, Claudia Heill and Andreas Geritzer, who will be honoured also in a separate ceremony by Federal President Heinz Fischer. Mobilising the young and the old, the “Day of Sports“ is a highlight which will certainly be staged for the fifth time next year. ■