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Austrian report Austrian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-08-17 07:51:39
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Growth of Austria s economy remains high

The growth of Austria's economy remained high in the second quarter of 2011. Despite the sombre mood among Austrian businesses due to stock market turbulences, the rise in the GDP climbed to one per cent while it was only 0.8 per cent in the last quarter. Compared to the second quarter of last year however the real GDP growth sank from 4.2 per cent to 3.7 per cent, the economic research institute (WIFO) announced today after a quick estimate.

The main impulse for the overall growth was foreign trade. At the same time commodity trade grew only slightly. The year's second quarter also saw a decrease in the expansion of investments which the WIFO explained with the foreign trade economy growth impulse not yet having reached the domestic economy. Equipment investments only rose by one per cent in the time from April until June while they were rising by 2.2 per cent at the beginning of the year.

With the first two quarters of 2011 seeing stagnation in investments in construction the year-long trend of decline in this sector seems to have been stopped now. WIFO added however that nothing hinted at a growth in demand of construction services. WIFO described private spending as "robust". It has grown by 0.2 per cent compared with the first quarter even though net wages were strained by high inflation. Public spending grew by a real 0.3 per cent in the second quarter of the year which is 0.1 per cent less than in the first quarter of 2011.

Israeli Holocaust survivors sue Austria

Jews born to wealthy Austrian families, which lost all their property during World War II, are claiming billions of Euros in compensation. 'They must pay us everything we're entitled to,' they say. A group of Austrian-born Israeli Holocaust survivors is working to reopen the symbolic compensation agreement signed by Austria a decade ago and demanding payment "for all the property we were robbed of".  Jewish property has been evaluated in the past by Austrian historians at some €15 billion Euros ($21 billion), without interest.

Since the Austrian and US governments signed the symbolic agreement in 2001, Holocaust survivors have filed claims worth some €1.5 billion Euros ($2 billion), without interest. But the agreement states that Austria will pay the survivors and their offspring a total of $210 million, so in most cases survivors received only 10% of the sum demanded in the claim. When the agreement was signed, Austria had a conservative-national government which also included Jörg Haider's far-Right Freedom Party. The move was aimed at removing the country from the international isolation it was subject to at the time.
The Austrian leadership took advantage of the fact that Vienna's Jewish community was facing bankruptcy at the time in order to get its approval for the symbolic compensation arrangement (Israel was not part of the agreement). Now, 10 years later, the Austrian-born survivors are preparing to demand the rest of the money they deserve. "I have no idea how the Austrians calculated the sum agreed on at the time," says Attorney Martha Raviv, a member of the group demanding to reopen the agreement.


Should an Austrian man have been fired for practicing urine therapy?

A 57-year-old man in Austria says he was fired from his job for practicing urine therapy, which involves rubbing urine into his skin. Alfred Zoppelt worked at Belevedere, a Viennese castle with an extensive art collection, for 23 years. He said Thursday he received a letter from his employer claiming the practice was a threat to his co-workers.

"You regularly rub urine into your skin, particularly the face and hands," Zoppelt claimed he was told. "With this, you soil your place of work ... and threaten the health of your co-workers." Urine therapy is an alternative medical practice that involves drinking your own urine and massaging it into your skin, according to a Universal Tao practitioner.  Adherents claim certain elements of urine have a detoxifying effect on the body. These claims have never been scientifically proven.

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