18:26 GMT07 August 2020
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    An Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer said that Austria should maintain its military non-aligned status and avoid joining any military alliance.

    VIENNA (Sputnik) — Austria should maintain its military non-aligned status and avoid joining any military alliance including NATO and the proposed European Union Army, Norbert Hofer, a presidential candidate of the Austrian right-wing Freedom Party (FPO), told Sputnik in an exclusive interview.

    “We do have NATO members in the EU, however, Austria is not a part of NATO and it is important to me that Austria never becomes a part of NATO. It is very important to me, being a presidential candidate, to make sure that our neutrality is being maintained in the future,” Hofer said.

    “Therefore, we will not take part in the joint EU Army either,” the presidential candidate added.

    Moreover, Austria needs to double its military spending to one percent of its GDP as safety and comfort cannot be achieved with the minimal budget of half percent, Norbert Hofer added.

    “We do have security problems related to immigration but Austria is still considered as a safe country. Up until now, about half percent of the gross national product is spent on national security, which is a very small amount. The Federal President in Austria is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and, in my opinion, our Army needs to be backed up. Austria's military budget should be doubled and equal to one percent of its GDP,” Hofer said.

    He also noted that in the past, Austria used to cut costs on its police forces' spending, which now requires additional financial support amid the security concerns.

    The defense data on Austria,  last measured by the European Defence Agency in 2014, stood at 2. 49 billion euro ($2.79 billion), or 0.76 percent of GDP. Country’s current defense budget of 0.5 percent of GDP places Austria on a par with such countries as Ireland,  Luxembourg and  Papua New Guinea, according to globalsecurity.org website.


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