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Foreign Minister Survives Confidence Vote In Austria

Austria’s foreign minister survived a confidence vote Friday, brought on by reports that he made derogatory comments about several foreign leaders, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Wolfgang Schuessel has vigorously denied the reports, which originated with a breakfast with Austrian reporters last month at a European Union summit in the Netherlands.

According to three of four reporters present, Schuessel called the head of the German Bundesbank, Hans Tietmeyer, “a real pig,” and referred to the Swedes as “fools.”

Later, an Austrian news magazine reported him as also having on previous occasions described Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko as a “smelly Turk” and Albright as “an aging Bette Davis.”

His critics say even if Schuessel is telling the truth, his inability to resolve the matter suggests he is not fit to be foreign minister.

Schuessel responded Friday by pointing to a series of meetings with foreign dignitaries this week. “If that isn’t ability to act, then I don’t know what I could offer you,” he said.

After a five-hour debate, the Social Democrats joined Schuessel’s conservative People’s Party in defeating a no-confidence motion brought by three small opposition parties.