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Austria’s Embattled Ex-Chancellor Kurz Finds Home at NGO

Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, from the center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), who left that post last year after corruption charges, has been appointed co-chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), it was reported Sunday.

The non-governmental organization defines itself as an “opinion-making and advisory body on international tolerance promotion, reconciliation, and education,” which “fosters understanding and tolerance among peoples of various ethnic origin; educates on techniques of reconciliation; facilitates post-conflict social apprehensions; monitors chauvinistic behaviors; proposes pro-tolerance initiatives and legal solutions.” 

The board of the council, founded in 2008 by the president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), the Russian entrepreneur, billionaire, and philanthropist Vyacheslav Moshe Kantor, also includes other high ranking politicians, such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In a statement on the EJC’s website, Kantor stated he is “very excited to have someone of former Chancellor Kurz’s standing, experience and knowledge join the ECTR,” and that he “is exactly the right type of leader who understands intuitively the needs to impart these important lessons to younger generations, and has a long-standing vision to fight extremism, racism, and intolerance.”

The thirty-five-year-old Kurz quickly took to Twitter, saying he was “honored to join the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation as co-chairman together with Tony Blair!”

Blair has been serving as chairman of the ECTR board since 2015. Still oft-criticized for having involved the UK in the non-U.N. approved 2003 Iraq invasion, he recently came under a fresh barrage when it was announced he would receive knighthood. The news elicited a now over one million signatures-strong petition to have it rescinded. 

Whether Kurz’ commitment to the NGO’s cause is genuine or a cynical ploy to spruce up a somewhat sullied name remains a question, the answer to which his strict position on immigration and championing of an Austrian identity, while in power, further complicates. 

Following Kurz’s resignation from politics last year, Austrian media reported he had been hired by billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel to work for Thiel Capital as a global strategist, and would commence work there this year. 

Meanwhile, the Vienna-based Economic and Corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) is still investigating Kurz and his confidants for corruption, breach of trust, and false testimony.

Tristan Vanheuckelom writes on film, literature, and comics for various Dutch publications. He is an avid student of history, political theory, and religion, and is a News Writer at The European Conservative.

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