The recognition of Austria as a neutral state in perpetuity took place as part of the general negotiations for the Austrian State Treaty in 1955. The policy was then especially favored by the foreign minister, Bruno Kreisky, and had been demanded unconditionally by the Soviet secretary of state, V. N. Molotov, before the Soviet Union would give up the occupation of the country. The Moscow Declaration, agreed to by a delegation of the Austrian government on 15 April, one month before the conclusion of the general treaty, obligated Austria to remain neutral in perpetuity and to fight with arms to retain that status should it be threatened. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had serious reservations about the arrangement. Italy, a member of the alliance, was troubled by the loss of a direct overland connection to West Germany, and many feared that Soviet influence on Austria would remain heavy. Nevertheless, the prospect of any Soviet pullback from central Europe offset these caveats.
   The conditions of neutrality for Austria were formally drawn up as a matter of constitutional principle and accepted by the National Assembly (Nationalrat) on 26 October 1955. Austria was to enter no military alliances and to allow no foreign power to establish military installations on its territory. Its military forces were to be used for self-defense only. Well into the 1980s, both foreign policy experts and the Constitutional Court agreed that Austria’s sovereignty hung upon strict construction of the provision. Neutrality did pose some problems for the development of post–World War II Austria. Membership in the European Community, desirable because of the close commercial relations Austria had with Germany and Italy, was virtually closed, at least until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, in part because participation carried with it certain military responsibilities.
   Austria used its position as a neutral state to advance peacekeeping both in Europe and throughout the world. As a member of the United Nations (UN) since 1955, it quickly took an active role in such UN bodies as the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the Human Rights Commission. Austrian forces have participated in many UN peacekeeping forces throughout the world. The neutrality of Austria played a significant role in easing the tensions between the NATO states and the Soviet bloc from 1955 on. Revolutionary groups in Hungary sought the same status in 1956 when they attempted to rid their country of Soviet control.
   During the 1990s, however, Austrian neutrality was noticeably compromised. The government granted NATO the right to fly through Austrian air space during the Persian Gulf War of 1990–1991. The Austrian admission to the European Union in 1995 and the current discussions of a European security system have made Austrian neutrality an ongoing subject of reevaluation. In 1995, Russia declared that Austrians could determine the meaning of neutrality for themselves.
   See also Foreign Policy; Trade.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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