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Austria’s News in English: November 5 – 11

Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity Austrian news feature! Here we’ll provide you with snippets of the most important Austrian news of the last couple of weeks so you can stay up to date. Also – don’t forget to share your feedback with us & subscribe to get the newsletter. Yes, just sign up right over there! —>

1. Commemorations for the Victims of the November Pogroms

The 9th and 10th of November marks the 80th anniversary of the November pogroms, or “Reichkristallnacht,” as it was called by the Nazis in German.

For many historians, this night marks the beginning of the Shoa (the Holocaust), and the killing of millions of Jews. In Austria, 30 Jewish citizens were killed, while 7,800 were arrested, and 4,000 were deported immediately to the concentration camp Dachau. In Vienna, approximately 2,000 people/families were forcefully evicted from their homes and 42 synagogues were set on fire. Hundreds of Jews committed suicide. To commemorate the memory and the cruelties against them, the city of Vienna is hosting several events over the course of the week.

On the 6th of November the Wiener Volkstheater hosted a scenic reading with the title “Gelebt, erlebt, überlebt – Die Geschichte der Wiener Familie Pressburger” (Lived, Experienced, Survived – The Story of the Viennese Pressburger Family ).

On Nov 7th the president of the Jewish Community of Vienna, Oskar Deutsch, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) and the Minister of Education Heinz Faßmann (ÖVP) welcomed Shoa survivors that were invited during their Jerusalem visit in June earlier this year. Approximately 70 survivors are currently visiting the places of their childhood and schools to talk to students about their experiences.

On the 8th the Jewish Community of Vienna und the Jewish Youth of Vienna held their commemoration march “Light of Hope”, ending with a gathering at the memorial at Judenplatz. The same day, a commemoration was taking place in the Jewish Community Centre in the presence of Austrian president Alexander van der Bellen. Further commemorations will take place at the University of Vienna, and the former Aspangbahnhof, where tens of thousands deportations took place.

On Friday morning (November 9th), on the formal anniversary of the pogroms, president van der Bellen led a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial at Judenplatz. Afterwards he participated in a commemoration in the parliament. The invited Shoa survivors were also present. In the evening, the Wiener Ruprechtskirche will host a memorial service.

On Sunday the 11th, a tour of remembrance will take place in the district Meidling. The tour will start at 3pm on the corner Meidlinger Hauptstraße/Sechtergasse. A complete list of all the events this week can be viewed via the webpage “Novembergedenken”.

Furthermore, the government has greenlighted the budget for a further memorial. The “memorial wall” – a commemoratory that the artist and Shoa survivor Kurt Yakov Tutter has been planning for years, will receive a funding of 4.5 Million Euro. All 66,000 names of Austrian victims will be inscribed on the wall. The location, which had been debated repeatedly over the last few years, will most likely be at Ostarrichi park in the 9th district between the university campus and the national bank. There are further talks to enable descendants of Jewish victims to become Austrian citizens if they wish to do so. A similar law has been effective in Germany for years.

Source: Der Standard / Der Standard

2. Austria says No to UN-Migration Compact

The Austrian government has announced not to sign the UN migration compact (a inter-governmental negotiated agreement), and has caused a snowball effect in other countries’ reconsiderations too. The pact promotes a “human right to migration,” however Austria has argued against signing it as this would also entail a “dilution of legal and illegal migration”. This decision from Austria not to sign is rather abrupt, as prior Austrian governments have been participating in shaping the compact.

The purpose of the compact was to improve the cooperation within international migration. Migration is defined as a positive term and a part of human history. The inter-governmental compact was supposed to view the needs and interests of all participating countries equally, not a matter of rich or poor. Based on the Human Rights Charta from 1948 and the New York Declaration – which were both signed by Austria in the past -the compact was meant to improve the global data situation by preventing impoverishment and repression. Both cases are common reasons that migration happens. Further points would have been to provide better security to those migrating and to the receiving country.

A lot of fear has been going around that the compact would lead to open borders. This would be the case for safe, orderly and regular migration. Illegal migration would be countered by the appropriate actions taken in the countries of origin, plus should eventually lead to more legal migration, legal groundwork and specifications. The compact further guarantees the sovereignty of the member countries to formulate their own national migration politics according to their needs. As securing borders is a duty of individual states, there would be no forced open borders.

Another question that has been floating around is why sign this compact it if it is not legally binding. Starting in 2020, the UN will host a review forum every four years to determine what progress can be standardized according to the experiences made by the members. There are no sanctions planned, but adaptations to encourage further progress.

The compact is currently set to be accepted at the UN-conference between the 10th and 11th of December in Morocco. It will be formally adopted in 2019. Besides Austria, the U.S. and Hungary have already declined their signature on migration. Australia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Croatia are currently eyeing an exit too.

Source: Der Standard

3. Flight Companies fail at giving Proper Compensations

The European Court of Auditors has declared that the rights of flight passengers in the European Union has been enacted insufficiently when it comes to cases of rebooking and reimbursement. The system to provide passengers with compensation is a bureaucratic nightmare for both the customer and the service provider. This is due to every complaint having to be handed in and processed separately.

The reaction of the flight companies to customer demands is not transparent. Noted issues include the fact that passengers who have the same journey booked and are affected by travel disturbances might be treated differently. The regulation for passenger rights from 2004 also doesn’t incorporate the inflation rate, meaning that the compensation for those whose flight has a delay of more than three hours are effectively worth 25% less than back when the rule was established.

The obligation to support customers during travel disturbances is something that flight companies reluctantly do, or often don’t follow through on – even if the legitimacy of the claims is documented in European law. From a two-hour delay onwards, the company must provide coupons for buying food and drinks. However, the definition and the extent of these “snacks”, “meals” and “refreshments” are not further defined, and customers might receive less than expected and needed.

A far worse problem is the obligation of rebooking a passenger into another mode of transport if their original flight is cancelled. The customer is entitled to a transport of “comparable conditions”, but there are no elaborate definitions what those conditions are. This results in customers often being packed onto a bus ride instead, even if the distances are extremely long. There is also an increase of cases in which passengers could have been booked on another flight or service class of the same company, but the company refused due to financial reasons.

The Court recommends automatizing the system to provide passengers for compensations, so that the company doesn’t decide from case to case. This is something the European Commission will be debating earliest autumn 2019. However, a reform of the air passenger rights regulation has been debated as far back as 2013 and even until now, there has been no adaption.

Source: Die Presse

4. Unemployment Assistance: No Access to Assets

After circulating rumors about the possibility of losing one’s assets while receiving unemployment, Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ) has now promised that the planned reform of the unemployment assistance will remain an insurance service, meaning the state’s access to private assets will not be possible. This goes against earlier reports, that the Austrian government was planning to introduce an Austrian version of the German Hartz IV. The unemployment assistance will be transferred into the needs-based minimum benefit system.

What will stick though is that a potential recipient will need to have lived for five years in Austria before he is entitled to the minimum benefit system. Foreigners with low-level German skills and who do not participate in AMS courses will receive benefits in kind instead of cash payments.

Source: Der Standard

5. Christmas Market Season is starting

The official Christmas Market season started on Thursday, 8th of November, with “Winter in MQ”. The Christmas spirit is however accompanied by the rather untypical 20 degrees Celsius/68 Fahrenheit. The MQ market is not only offering a “winter sky” this year (a rain cover attached between the huts and offering a blinking light installation), it also welcomes back the curling rink and a new sportive creation called “micro extreme bowling”- which combine Bowling, Billiard and Minigolf in one game.

Vienna is further welcoming a new addition to its Christmas Market lineup. “Stadtklang” will focus on art and design and will have a weekly vernissage. The location of the market will be in front of the Ottakringer brewery. Further design focused markets are „Rienna“ and „WeihnachtsQuartier“ in MQ.

Another first will be the vegan Christmas Market from the 8th to 9th of December in the Arcotel Kaiserwasser. The market at Schloss Schönbrunn and the market at Karlskirche on the other hand are celebrating their 25th anniversary.

Apart from those jubilees and newcomers, the usual markets will start opening over the next few weeks in November. Visitors will have the chance to go to the town hall Christmas Market, Spittelberg, Altwiener Christmas Market, Stephansplatz, Michaelerplatz and at the ferris wheel in Prater.

Winter im MQ – 8th of November
Rienna im MQ – 9th of November
Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg – 15th of November
Christkindlmarkt vor dem Rathaus – 16th of November
Weihnachtsmarkt am Stephansplatz – 16th of November
Michaelerplatz – 16th of November
Altwiener Christkindlmarkt – 17th of November
Wintermarkt am Riesenradplatz – 17th of November
Stadtklang – 23rd of November
Adventmarkt vor der Karlskirche – 23rd of November
Kultur- und Weihnachtsmarkt Schloss Schönbrunn – 24th of November
WeihnachtsQuartier – 30th of November to 2nd of December
Weihnachtsmarkt Vegan – 8th – 9th of December

Source: Die Presse

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