Turning Times Austria

Turning Times in Europe – Austria's Security Policy

Trilogy "Zeitenwende”

Jun 15, 2023 / Vienna / Austrian Foreign, Security, Defence Policy / European Security and Defence

The lecture series "Zeitenwende" (Turning Times) of the AIES in cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy and the Center for Strategic Analyses (CSA) has addressed various elements of the turning times in the past months, also taking a closer look at the consequences for the European and Western security architecture. In the process, important developments and trends were identified in the context of the turn of the times.

Zeitenwende I

Neutrality in transition

The first lecture dealt with the development of neutrality in various European countries and the overall European security architecture. The Russian war of aggression and the policy of NATO were at the centre of attention. When considering Austrian neutrality, credibility plays a decisive role, which is, however, affected by various myths about Austrian neutrality in society and politics. Furthermore, neutrality in the EU context also harbours a free-rider problem that Austria is confronted with. Here, a societal debate like in Switzerland or Finland could contribute to a more differentiated approach to the principle of neutrality.

Zeitenwende II

The Future of European Security Policy

The second lecture in the series dealt with the future of European security policy and the challenges facing the EU as well as NATO and the OSCE in view of the Russian war of aggression. Against this background, European cohesion must be strengthened to ensure a European defence capability. However, according to the experts, a European army is neither realistic nor desirable for European defence. Rather, cooperation must be promoted, which would also lead to a more independent EU defence policy. These dynamics in the European and international arena inevitably lead to the demand for a new discussion of Austria's role, including a new social debate on Austria's positioning with regard to the principle of neutrality.

Zeitenwende III

Options for Austrian Security Policy

Finally, the last part of the lecture series was devoted to the options of Austrian security policy on the issue of neutrality. In this context, Austria's possible options for action are very much influenced by foreign policy developments that are moving ever closer geographically and can therefore no longer be considered in isolation. A new form of Austrian neutrality is not only legally but also politically possible. So far, however, there is a lack of social will and political support. Media, education and political actors play an essential role in shaping a social discourse and narrative. Not least because of the changes in foreign policy in Europe, the Austrian Ministry of Defence is also pursuing a whole-of-government approach that also encompasses and takes into account the risks for Austria and the EU.

Through the contributions of the experts, the three events were able to highlight foreign policy trends that inevitably also have an impact on domestic policy in Austria. This made it possible to deal with different scenarios and developments in a future-oriented manner and to learn new perspectives on political issues.

Related Events

The Austrian Question of Neutrality

31.05.2023 / Part 3 of the event trilogy "Zeitenwende Europa"

The future of European security policy

08.05.2023 / Part 2 of the event trilogy "Zeitenwende Europa"

Neutrality in Transition

13.04.2023 / Part 1 of the event trilogy "Zeitenwende in Europe"