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TATIANA KALTENBECK: I have the feeling that what has won is a policy that does not enlighten. What has won is a policy that wakes up very low instincts.
KRISTIN MCHUGH: This week on Common Ground, the rise of racism in Austria. And later, training international police forces.
ROBERT PERRITO: Our organization, working through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, established a police academy just outside of Priztina and began to train a new Kosovar police service.
KEITH PORTER: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It’s produced by the Stanley Foundation. I’m Keith Porter.
KRISTIN MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. Two months after an extreme right-wing party in Austria captured second place in national elections, it’s still unclear who will be governing the country. The strongest party, the Social Democrats, don’t have enough votes for a parliamentary majority and coalition talks are deadlocked. Meanwhile, political experts both in and outside the country have been caught off balance. Why are right-wing idea ideas regaining a strong foothold in one of the world’s richest countries? Karen Engel looked for answers in Graz, Austria.
[sound of church bells and music]
KAREN ENGEL: Here in downtown Graz, Peruvian street musicians compete with the tolling bells of a local church as busy shoppers and streetcars pass by. A city of 300,000, Graz has no poverty to speak of, low unemployment, three universities, a thriving cultural life, and a growing automobile and high tech industry. To many, this sounds almost idyllic. But the harmony was jarred when Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party come in second place in recent national elections. In Graz, they came in first.
TATIANA KALTENBECK: It makes me very sad. It makes me afraid.
ENGEL: Tatiana Kaltenbeck is the head of the Social Democratic Party in Graz, which still heads the local government.
KALTENBECK: I have the feeling that what has won is a policy that does not enlighten. What has won is a policy that wakes up very low instincts.
ENGEL: In Graz, like elsewhere in Austria, the Freedom Party made a ban on foreign immigration central to its campaign, claiming that Austria suffered from what Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider called “over foreignization.” He consistently links foreigners to Mafia racketeering, drug dealing, car stealing, child molesting, and a host of other evils. Haider’s rhetoric and his electoral success have raised alarm both inside and outside Austria. His comments praising Third Reich labor policies and Austrian SS soldiers have been recycled endlessly throughout the domestic and international press. But during a recent trip in the United States, and later home in Austria, Haider denied any sympathy for Nazi policies, repeated his commitment to democratic principles, and apologized for being insensitive to experiences of the Holocaust.
[sound of a motor running, followed by scraping]
ENGEL: Not far from the center of town construction workers are busy building a new synagogue for Graz. The original one burned down during Crystallnacht, a night of fire and looting in which thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses throughout Germany and Austria were destroyed in November 1938. Sixty years later all parties on the Graz city council, including members of the Freedom Party, voted to finance the building of a new synagogue. In 1938 there were 1,700 Jews in Graz; today less than 200. One of them is Marjorie Rosenberg, who moved here from New York 18 years ago. A teacher trainer and instructor of English as a Foreign Language, Rosenberg says she has not encountered much anti-Semitism in Austria today.
MARJORIE ROSENBERG: I personally have encountered very little of it. My personal opinion is that many voters are uninformed. There is a great deal of fear of foreigners here. This is something that’s always been clear, is that Austria is somewhat xenophobic. What I’m also hearing is more and more nationalism. I was doing a class for primary school teachers, where they told me that the children that they have, especially in the country, who come into the classrooms, don’t really want to learn to speak High German. They are very proud of their dialects, and this to me is a sign that this is connected with this nationalism. “We are Styrians or Austrians and we want to speak the way we speak and we don’t want to sound like Germans. And we’re very proud of our own heritage.” I think many people are afraid, that they look around and they see Africans, they hear people speaking with accents; and this is fear.
JANINA ENGEL: [Sound of a little girl, perhaps 6 or 7 years old, speaking in German]
ENGEL: “Who’s afraid of the black man? No one? And when he comes, we’ll run away.” It’s an old children’s rhyme here that originally referred to a black-faced chimney sweep or a blacksmith. But the historical context can get lost in child’s play. While working on this story my daughter Janina comes home from playing “Schwarzer Mann” with the neighborhood kids outside. And she tells me how it goes.
JANINA ENGEL: One kid has to be a black man. Then the black man must catch the other kids.
ENGEL: And what do the other kids do?
JANINA ENGEL: The other kids run away.
ACTOR 1: And that’s how you feel?
ACTOR 2: Yes. I feel extremely bad about the way the whites treat the blacks. Friend, do you know I have often occupied a double seat in the bus alone? Because nobody wanted to sit with me. Somebody just thought that we Africans don’t wash. That’s the reason why we are so black.
ENGEL: A theater group of African students and refugees, performing in a play called Alienation, a story about the experiences of African asylum-seekers in Graz. The playwright, a Nigerian journalist who fled to Austria three years ago, says he wrote the play to counter popular images of Africans as drug dealers, and to demonstrate the prejudices many asylum-seekers face in Austria. One of the actors in the play is Emmanuel Halegegua, a Nigerian student in Graz.
EMMANUEL HALEGEGUA: We, the blacks here, experience a lot of negative reactions from the Austrians.
ENGEL: Many Africans work as newspaper couriers. It’s one of the few jobs they can get without an employment permit. But the job has risks. Emmanuel Halegequa.
EMMANUEL HALEGEGUA: These dogs had to rush on me and tried to grab my trousers and tore it to pieces and I was really wounded. The owner was not there. When the man was caught, all he did was to beat me on top …. so all nothing I could do, because I didn’t want any problem.
ENGEL: Since the Freedom Party’s second place showing in October, civic organizations and minority groups have been reporting a marked increase in racist incidents and an overall perception that ethnic slurs and off-color jokes are once again becoming socially acceptable. Anti-immigrant messages have struck a chord with working class groups afraid of cheap labor coming from Austria’s neighbors’ the east: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia, or from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. But what’s more surprising is that almost a third of young, educated voters are also joining the ranks of the Freedom Party.
[sound of a crowd]
ENGEL: Right across from the main university is a beer house well known as a favorite watering hole for right-wing groups. On a Friday night, though, it looks and sounds like any other student pub in Graz, and it’s packed. Here I met Wolfgang Demalle, who freely admitted he voted for the Freedom Party.
WOLFGANG DEMALLE: [via a translator] Austria has about ten percent foreigners. It is okay if someone comes here seeking political asylum, but it’s not okay if it gets out of hand. Ten percent is a lot. In some schools German speaking children can’t get a decent education.
ENGEL: According to Sociology 101 it’s economic turmoil, not economic prosperity that encourages the development of right-wing groups. Graz is located in one of the most economically dynamic regions in Austria. In the last ten years the southern province of Styria has made an impressive turnaround. After privatizing the traditional steel and iron ore industry and attracting international automobile and high tech companies to the area, Styria today has the highest growth rate in the country and has created more jobs than anywhere else. So what’s going wrong? Andreas Kohl is a leader of the Conservative People’s Party, which has been sharing power in Austria in a coalition government with the Social Democrats.
ANDREAS KOHL: The coalition has been unable to settle its successes. We are a country which has practically no inflation; we have a four percent unemployment, which is below the United States’ unemployment rate; we have a three percent economic growth; and as regards quality of life we are among the top countries in the world. So we have no really big problems. And this is the problem we have.
MICHAEL FLEISCHHACKER: I would not agree. The problem is that the People’s Party doesn’t see the problems.
ENGEL: Michael Fleischhacker is the Deputy Editor for the main newspaper in Graz, Die Kleine Zeitung.
MICHAEL FLEISCHHACKER: They have created a lot of jobs. People do appreciate that. But at the same time they see that the political system does not improve. Everything around is modernizing, improving; systems are changing in economics, in all parts of the life. But they see that the only part of life that is not modernizing, it’s not changing, is politics. That’s the main reason why the Freedom Party gets more and more votes.
ENGEL: The Austrian Social Democrats have been in power for more than 30 years, much of that time with the Conservative People’s Party as their coalition buddies. There hasn’t been a major labor strike in Austria since the end of World War II, in part because under Austria’s system of so-called “social partnership,” business and labor interests sit down and negotiate everything from labor contracts to national healthcare policy, to subsidized daycare centers and immigration quotas. The system helped distribute wealth, but it also created a lot of political back-rubbing and patronage that has disillusioned voters. Michael Fleischhacker
MICHAEL FLEISCHHACKER: The bright side is the stability that we have gained, with this social partnership. And the dark side is that they have created some sort of parallel government. And the core problem I think is that they are not able to make a difference between parliamentarianism and lobbyism.
ENGEL: Over the years the Freedom Party has successfully uncovered several cases of misappropriated funds, political kickbacks, and money squandering, although they too, have had their share of scandals. But the image of Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider as a young, bungee-jumping, hip-and-high tech challenger to the stodgy political elite still sticks. Helmut Konrad is a Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Graz who has been an outspoken critic of nationalistic tendencies here. But while Konrad is concerned with the Freedom Party’s increasing support, he doesn’t think that it can be explained entirely by xenophobia.
PROFESSOR HELMUT KONRAD: One problem is that the two old parties worked too friendly together: “Give me this job, I give you that.” These two parties have divided a lot of influence. They are just giving young and gifted people no chance. So this approach I think was to a large extent a directive for just the younger ones; also those leaving the university. Because it’s not the nationalist approach that attracts people like this. It’s just, I think this modernization approach, this up-breaking of an old Austrian system that was a system of the last 45-50 years in this country.
ENGEL: By promising to promote free enterprise on one hand, but to slow down the expansion of the European Union on the other, the Freedom Party has been able to attract both voters who want change, and those who are afraid of it. Michael Steiner is a Professor of Economics at the University of Graz.
MICHAEL STEINER: There’s this large group of people who are afraid of the future. Austria, and Styria in specific, had in this case a successful change, but it’s still a change. And there are a lot of people who get out of work, this very large agricultural sector in parts of the country. Especially this sector is hit by the change. And then we have also, of course, fears among people who have lower qualified jobs. They are afraid to stay out of the process of positive change.
ENGEL: Social Democratic leader Tatiana Kaltenbeck agrees that rapid change in Austria, and Europe in general, is creating a general feeling of insecurity that Joerg Haider’s populism successfully taps into.
TATIANA KALTENBECK: People see and can watch that around them, things are getting worse. And therefore they are afraid that they could lose what they have and there is the feeling we are sitting on an eggshell.
ENGEL: It’s still unclear whether the Freedom Party will be part of Austria’s next government. Whatever the outcome, almost all observers agree that Austria’s political status quo is doomed. For Common Ground, I’m Karen Engel, in Graz, Austria.
[sound of church bells]
MCHUGH: Coming up, the American role in training international police forces
ROBERT PERRITO: They make extraordinarily good instructors, we’ve found. And when they go back to their communities, particularly those that are still active-duty police officers, they bring with them, you know, a whole new level of experience and expertise and enthusiasm, having been part of these international operations.
MCHUGH: Printed transcripts and audio cassettes of this program are available. Listen at the end of the broadcast for details. Common Ground is a service of the Stanley Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts a wide a range of programs designed to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.
PORTER: In some of the world’s most tumultuous places, there is an overwhelming need for basic law-and-order services. One office in the US Department of Justice has been given the job of training local police forces in places like Panama, Somalia, Haiti, El Salvador, and Kosovo. The International Criminal Investigation Training Assistance Program is known by its acronym, ICITAP. Robert Perrito is Acting Director.
PERRITO: ICITAP is an interesting organization in that it’s more than just a training program, although training is still in our name. What we are is an international law enforcement development program. We’ve learned through our participation in a number of international peace operations and in training in emerging democracies that just going and giving a course and going home accomplishes very little. What’s really needed is a comprehensive development assistance approach. We go in, normally begin working with the host government and with the national leadership, to get across the idea that law enforcement development training and assistance is needed, and to get, buy in at that level.
Then we work with local police, usually doing strategic planning. Then, when we get around to actually delivering training we usually end up setting up a unit, writing it’s rules and regulations and procedures, getting local laws amended so that they’re appropriate. Then the training occurs with the personnel who actually are gonna implement this or be a part of the unit. Then when the unit deploys to the field our advisors usually go with them to be around, to be available to answer questions, to see if the training is applicable. And then very often we’ll do follow-ups, where we provide advanced training in the same area, so that you just don’t call a bunch of people together and say, “All right, this is the way you investigate a case. Now you’ll never see us again. Go out and do what you’ve been trained to do.” Because that doesn’t work.
We come in and create the environment and then stay with the people until they’re actually able to use the skills they have, and the skills become then part of their own inventory of environ—very often when we do things we train trainers from the local police academy. We give them the curriculum. And so that there’s a self-sustaining capacity.
PORTER: Well, I certainly want to get into some of the specifics of the places you provide this kind of service. But let’s talk about the history. When was this agency founded, and why?
PERRITO: Well, the United States is kind of interesting, because we’re the one country in the world where providing international police assistance is against the law. Section 660 of the Foreign Assistance Act, which bans foreign police assistance, is still on the books. So all the police assistance the US does abroad is done under notwithstanding and exceptions to the basic law. And ICITAP is an exception. ICITAP was created in 1986 to meet the need of providing criminal investigation training to the law enforcement organizations in Central America. We were a very small organization. When Operation Just Cause occurred in Panama, the US needed a civilian training agency to train the new Panamanian National Police. ICITAP got the job. We were successful. We got the job in El Salvador; we got the job in Somalia; we go the job in Haiti. We’ve gotten the job in Bosnia, and we now, most recently, have gotten the job in Kosovo. We’ve been tasked by the US government to train 3,000 members of the new Kosovar Police Service within a year.
PORTER: Wow. So in each of those places, I mean, those are, the places that would be described as sort of the worst spots, or the places where things have gone terribly awry. And you get tasked with making some sense out of that. That must be a great challenge.
PERRITO: Well, I recently made a visit to a Accra, Ghana, and I tell the….
PORTER: Now, where was this?
PERRITO: Accra, Ghana. Where we’re providing, or we did provide this fall, a five-month program in civil disorder management for the Ghanaian national police. And I told the inspector general of police when I got there that it was such a pleasure to be in a country where the roofs were still on the buildings and the glass was still in the widows, because my previous visits had been to countries where that wasn’t the case.
PORTER: This is interesting to me also, that we hear often about in a situation where there has been a conflict and people are coming in, in the post-conflict situation providing medicine and shelter. You talked about the roofs being gone. Those kinds of things. But we don’t hear a lot of talk about law-and-order issues, about security issues. But this is still very important to people who are in that, sort of, post-disaster situation.
PERRITO: If we think about Kosovo, one of, the first thing that, the first obligation or job that was handed to the KFOR military forces as they deployed was basic law-and-order. There, people were flooding back into the country, there were acts of revenge, there were acts of basic criminality. And NATO soldiers began to take on the role of arresting and detaining people. Those are police functions. And almost immediately General Clark called for the international community to provide international police. Two things happened. One, the United Nations began to deploy an international police task force composed of professional international civilian police officers from around the world. At the same time, our organization, working through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, established a police academy just outside of Priztina and began to train a new Kosovar police service. We just graduated the first class of cadets—170 Kosovarians, including 7 ethnic Serbs. This force, when it’s fully deployed, will be the new police of Kosovo. They will operate initially under the supervision of the international police task force, but that force will leave eventually, and these cadets that will go through our training, these new police officers, will be the new police force for Kosovo.
PORTER: In the Kosovo situation you said, how many people were in the first graduating class?
PERRITO: There were 177 in the first graduating class.
PORTER: Right. And how many Americans are we talking about being involved in training?
PERRITO: There are approximately 40 American instructors at the academy right now, but there are also a complement of British instructors and there are instructors from other countries. As I said, we mostly, we work in Kosovo under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, so we have our partners from Europe and North America there. There are Canadian instructors as well as Americans and Europeans. In other countries we’ve worked in international partnership as well. In Haiti, for example, we began with a faculty at the police academy in Port-au-Prince, which was made up of Americans, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and French Gendarmarie, which was in international mix. It was very interesting to be a part of. But that’s normally the process. In El Salvador it was Spain and a number of Latin American countries—Chile, Argentina—and the United States.
PORTER: And the Americans that are a part of that, where do they, where do you draw them from? Are they all Department of Justice people? Or…
PERRITO: No, these are primarily law enforcement professional from across the United States. And from just a variety of communities. Some are recently retired officers, others are active duty officers. We try to draw on the strengths of state and local law enforcement in the United States. These are the people that have the most appropriate skills. They’re people that do these things on a daily basis. They are, they make extraordinarily good instructors, we’ve found. And when they go back to their communities, particularly those that are still active-duty police officers, they bring with them, you know, a whole new level of experience and expertise and enthusiasm, having been part of these international operations.
PORTER: You mentioned, in both Kosovo and Haiti that you had training sites set up in-country. Is that typical? Or do you also bring foreign nationals to the United States to conduct training?
PERRITO: We do very little training in the United States. Most of the training we do is in-country. And the reason for that is you get a larger bang for the buck. You can reach many more people for a much lower cost by bringing the instruction to the foreign community. And then the instruction occurs in a local context. You’re much less likely to get a circumstance where the instructor is simply telling a group of foreign students about how we do it in the United States. Much more likely to get a locally relevant presentation. We often use, for example when we teach the part of the course that deals with local law, we’re very likely to bring in a local attorney who will teach about his country’s laws. He’s probably the best expert we could get a hold of. Very often we use local NGO, human rights workers. When we get into those parts of the class we deal with community sensitivities. We’ll bring in church members, we’ll bring in people from local human rights organizations. So that you get a mix of resources and you make it as immediate as possible to the situations the student will confront when he leaves the class.
PORTER: We mentioned, again, Kosovo and Haiti and other countries that were emerging from some kind of strife. But you also work with countries that are more stable at that time, but also need your assistance.
PERRITO: That’s right.
PORTER: Tell us something about that.
PERRITO: Maybe a good example of that would be South Africa. Although it’s a country in political transition it’s a country with a great deal of stability. One of the more interesting things we’ve done there is we’ve worked with an organization called The Independent Complaints Directorate. This is an organization established under the supervision of the Ministry of Safety and Security. It was originally established to receive complaints for citizens about the police. But what it’s evolved into is an organization that’s investigating the problem of death in police custody. And South Africa last year experienced 700 cases of death in police custody. What we’ve done with this organization is help it establish itself. We’ve trained its investigators. We’ve trained its managers. And we’ve gone through the kind of program I described, where we, we created the rules and regulations of the organization—or helped those be created—and we trained the people. We deployed out with these new investigators. Helped them sort of, do their initial investigations. Brought them back into the classroom for advanced training. Deployed out with them again. And how this organization I think has over 50 investigators. They have a high profile in South Africa. They’re doing, they’re very sensitive and important work. And our role was to help create this institution, which is now pretty much on its own and functioning.
PORTER: The role of the executive branch agencies in this country in formulating US foreign policy, or being involved in the rest of the world, used to be confined to just to a couple of areas, sort of narrow departments. And now it seems to be spread all over the place. The Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor, Commerce; they all have an international aspect to them. In the Department of Justice, how does this work you do coordinate with the State Department? Or with US Agency for International Development?
PERRITO: ICITAP is a unique organization in that it is located within the Department of Justice, in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. That’s really the heart of that agency. But we take all of our money, in terms of project, in the form of project funding, from AID and the Department of State. So we work in an inter-agency environment almost all the time. We go to White House meetings on almost a daily basis. And our whole approach is to combine the talents, abilities, and outlook that the Department of Justice brings to this equation, with the foreign policy interests of the Department of State, the political interests of the White House, the development interests of AID, and to try to put that all together so that it’s a truly American kind of contribution in the areas where we’re working.
PORTER: But you also must find yourself in sort of direct liaison with, like say, OSCE or the UN, or whatever other agency is working….
PORTER: …in that country that you’re operating in.
PERRITO: Yeah, absolutely. In Bosnia, for example, we are in partnership with the International Police Task Force. And although we are a bilateral program we work very, very closely with IPTF. And in the initial program which we did, which involved offering training in basic and modern police skills and in respect for human dignity in policing, this is, these were two courses that have now reached almost 19,000 members of both police forces in the Federation and in the Republic of Serbska. In many of those cases we either trained the IPTF, the International Police Force members who delivered the training, or we taught in teams with them. So that you would walk into a classroom and see a person from our organization teaching next to a UN CIVPOL officer in his uniform. In Kosovo we work with OSCE. In Bosnia we work with the UN. In Guatemala and El Salvador we worked very closely with the United Nations there. In Albania we’re working with in a team with the Western European Union. They have a police assistance program there. So in most of the places where we are there is an international component and we’re a member of that joint effort.
PORTER: That is Robert Perrito. He’s Acting Director of the International Criminal Investigation Training Assistance Program in the United States Department of Justice. For Common Ground, I’m Keith Porter.
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