Vienna, 11 October 2008 Press release

Plassnik on the death of Provincial Governor Jörg Haider

Vienna, 11 October 2008 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik was shocked when she heard the news of the death of Carinthia’s Provincial Governor, who died in a car crash. "In this difficult hour our thoughts and sympathy are with his wife Claudia and his entire family. Jörg Haider’s tragic death once more reminds us that human beings in the public eye are not only a canvas upon which people project their own hopes and aspirations but mortals like you and me: endangered, lonely, tired, and sometimes overstrained," stated Plassnik.

"Although I personally did not agree with the substance of many of his positions, tribute has to be paid to Haider for the many developments he triggered in Austrian politics. He was a political actor who pointed out limits and repeatedly crossed them. No matter whether you agreed with his views or not - Jörg Haider was a master of political communication. For some he was a sparring partner, for others a role model. A star on the political stage, full of contradictions, an ever-changing player on emotions who didn’t always make it easy for others to deal seriously and constructively with his policies," continued the Foreign Minister.

"In Austria and at the international level, his statements, particularly those on the Nazi past, often elicited justified criticism. He polarised opinion and irritated people. However, this should not blind us to the fact that he also managed to break entrenched habits and take on many a sensitive subject. To the very end he successfully demonstrated both the importance of strong individuals and their limits. Over the decades of his political life the native Upper Austrian turned into a Carinthian. After his death Carinthia is on the threshold of a political realignment," concluded Plassnik.

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