Radio Sputnik has discussed the issue with Dr Reinhold Gärtner, professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck.
Sputnik: Is there generally a problem with integration between migrants of various faiths and the local population in Austria?
Of course, migrants have to accept the rules of law in host countries, like human rights or equality of men and women or freedom of opinion, but the host society has to make sure that migrants can become part of our societies; that they are socialised and can associate with others outside their ethnic community.
Sputnik: There is also the problem of ghettoes [forming]. That is also a problem, because then you don't really see the integration: when you have one group of people living all together and often in poor neighbourhoods. Is that also a problem and is anything being done?
Sputnik: Why do you think that is?
Reinhold Gärtner: Because the question of native population and foreigners has been ignored for decades and that is the main problem.
Sputnik: If there are voices like Marcus Franz; if there are voices saying these kinds of things, obviously some people are either trying to create this conflict or trying to ignite some kind of hatred or something. There is something going on. Is attention now being given to this? Are there proposals to create programmes that could effectively integrate and perhaps educate regarding local customs, local language and so forth? I mean, the US, they have very widespread programmes for immigrants to teach them the language and the customs of the locals.
Sputnik: Is there a tendency for these parties to become more popular of late?
Reinhold Gärtner: Unfortunately, it is, yes. I mean one indicator will be the elections for the European Parliament and then we will see how these right-wing parties come out of these elections — we have them in governments in Austria, in Italy, in other countries — so, there has been recently a rise of these right-wing populist parties.
We hope that this rise can be stopped in the near future.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr Reinhold Gärtner and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.