President of Vienna Goes Europe, Kati Schneeberger says that disinformation is the battlefield in which Russian President Vladimir Putin fights.
In an interview with The Geopost, Schneeberger emphasizes that Putin is not only waging war against Ukraine, but also against all of Europe and the values of democracy.
She adds that he is trying to create instability in the Balkans through disinformation.
“Through disinformation, he uses this and tries to create instability, and this is most easily achieved in the Balkan region. There are also personal conflicts, where you only need to light the fuse a little”, she adds.
The president of the “Vienna Goes Europe” initiative says that she does not know if Austria can play a role in resolving the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia.
“I don’t know if Austria can play an excellent role to resolve the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia. I don’t see such a thing,” she concludes.
Austria is part of the European Union, but Austrians are still not so European in heart and mind. (They) think very nationalistic. The European idea has not spread so far and the knowledge about the European Union is very low among people.
Austria primarily helps refugees, that is, people fleeing war and arriving in Austria, where the willingness to help on our part is very great. But it is also striking that Russian influence is deeply rooted in some of Austria’s political parties. In the FPÖ, an extreme right-wing party, the Russian influence is the greatest.
They even made a friendly agreement with Putin a few years ago and are probably among the parties that are financed by Putin. But even in those parties where you don’t think about it, like the political party SPÖ or ÖVP have a general Russian influence or friendship with Russia. But we have two former chancellors who worked for Russian companies (groups).
We had a foreign minister who invited Putin to her wedding and danced with him, had knelt before him. (When she invited him to dance as some kind of gesture). And this Russian influence is still felt.
In almost all parties, not all, but almost all parties are calling for the restoration of sanctions. Russian propaganda is accepted (is taken over) consciously or unconsciously. In Austria it is difficult.
Putin is not only waging military wars against Europe. So he is not only waging war against Ukraine, but against all of Europe, against our values, against democracy. A battle Putin is fighting is disinformation. Putin knows exactly where to attack, where Europe’s weak points are, where they are very sensitive and how he can manipulate them. And through disinformation, he takes advantage of that and tries to create instability, and the easiest place to do that is in the Balkans.
There are also personal conflicts where you just have to light the fuse a little bit. Very easily, these states become divided among themselves and that creates noise (not comfort) and instability, not only for the Balkan region, but for all of Europe. The states of the Western Balkans also have a perspective, some of them are also candidates for accession (to the EU?) and some are in negotiations, some are not and through these negotiations are part of the European Union.
So if there is unpleasantness (confusion), failure or disagreement, then all Europe is blocked and there is noise (discomfort) all over Europe.
It is really difficult because President Vučić is a very good friend of Austria and wants to enjoy more support. He exempts visas for countries that do not recognize Kosovo, on the other hand many refugees come, they manage to get through to Austria, and then Vučić says to Europe “We have a problem” and then Austria rather says “Dear President Vučić, we will help you”.
Vučić, Orban, Nehamer, sat together and thought about how to close the road to the Balkans, and Austria yesterday or the day before rejected a road against Bulgaria and Romania. They support Serbia, I don’t know why and what is behind it, but you can see it. I don’t know if Austria can play a big role in solving the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia. I don’t see anything like that.
At some point, there is a deadline. But it is not a final decision yet. The negotiations are just beginning. However, this depends heavily on the European Parliament, which has strongly supported visa liberalization, and from this point of view, no difficulties are expected. Personally, I am optimistic, but in this case I prefer to wait, as if it really happens as it seems, because we know from experience how that they can suddenly appear anywhere. /The Geopost/