The 1955 Austrian State Treaty
ended the four-power occupation and recognized Austria
as an independent and sovereign state. In October 1955, the Federal Assembly
passed a constitutional law in which "Austria declares of her own free will
her perpetual neutrality." The second section of this law stated that "in all future times Austria will not join any military alliances and will not permit the establishment of any foreign military bases on her territory." Since then, Austria has shaped its foreign policy on the basis of neutrality.
In recent years, however, Austria has begun to reassess its definition of neutrality, granting overflight rights for the UN
-sanctioned action against Iraq
in 1991, and, since 1995, contemplating participation in the EU's
evolving security structure. Also in 1995, it joined the Partnership for Peace
, and subsequently participated in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia
. Discussion of possible Austrian NATO
membership intensified during 1996. ÖVP
and Team Stronach
aim at moving closer to NATO or a European defense arrangement. SPÖ
, in turn, believe continued neutrality is the cornerstone of Austria's foreign policy, and a majority of the population generally supports this stance. Read more...