'A relationship of trust which began in 1950s': Austrian Chancellor recalls Nehru's role in independence

Nehammer recalled former PM Nehru's role in the early 1950s in Austria's journey to sovereignty and neutrality during the joint press conference with PM Modi in Vienna.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer during the India-Austria Business meeting, in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer during the India-Austria Business meeting, in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.Photo | PTI

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer lauded his nation's ties with India and recalled the role of the country's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in the negotiations that facilitated the European nation’s sovereignty in 1955.

The Chancellor's remarks came on Wednesday during a joint press briefing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Vienna, with Nehammer terming the ties between India and Austria "a relationship of trust," which began in the 1950s.

"There is a very good relationship between India and Austria. It's a relationship of trust which began in the 1950s...India helped Austria, and in 1955, the negotiations came to a positive conclusion with the Austrian State Treaty," the Austrian Chancellor said.

"What unites India and Austria is concern over the development of the geopolitical situation," he underlined.

The independence of Austria after World War II was primarily negotiated among the Allied Powers, including the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and France. Austria regained its sovereignty in 1955 through the Austrian State Treaty, which ended the Allied occupation and restored Austria as a neutral and independent state.

Nehru's role in the early 1950s in Austria's journey to sovereignty and neutrality has been traced by Austrian academic Dr. Hans Kochler.

According to Kochler's account, Austria’s Foreign Ministry Political Director travelled to New Delhi in August 1952 to meet Nehru, who assured him of India’s readiness to engage with the Soviets on Austria’s aspirations. That year, India was among the few nations backing Austria’s UN General Assembly appeal to end the Allied occupation and restore sovereignty.

And on June 2, 1953, Austrian Foreign Minister Karl Gruber and Nehru attended the coronation of Elizabeth II. They reportedly met the following morning in London. At a subsequent meeting on June 20, Kochler noted that Gruber sought Nehru's assistance in resolving the deadlock in negotiations for the treaty between Austria and the four Allied Powers.

And now, decades later, Austrian Chancellor Nehammer highlighted these negotiations during the joint briefing, saying: "There was a standstill in 1953, the situation was difficult. It was difficult to make progress with the Soviet Union, and it was Foreign Minister Gruber who contacted Prime Minister Nehru, asking for support in the negotiations to bring them to a positive conclusion...This is what happened. India helped Austria, and in 1955, the negotiations came to a positive conclusion with the Austrian State Treaty."

Modi is the third Prime Minister to visit Vienna after Nehru in 1955 and Indira Gandhi in 1983. Notably, Nehru also made the first State visit to independent Austria in June 1995, a month after it gained full sovereignty.

(With additional inputs from PTI and ANI)

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