Central Europe

Austrians learn to love their neighbours

Published on 20 February 2012 at 14:12

“Hello neighbour! Last minute reconciliation”: Die Presse enthusiastically reports on a survey of “cross-border community life” conducted by the Austrian Society for European Politics, which appears to show that Austrians’ attitude towards their eastern neighbours (Hungarians, Czechs and Slovaks) has improved significantly over the last decade.

According to the daily, data from a poll of 500 people in three regions — Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Burgenland — demonstrates that the opening of borders, 20 years ago, is no longer perceived as a blow to stability in the country.

Tourism and trade have done much to improve cross-border relations, with “residents of neighbouring regions in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary mainly crossing the border to shop. The increase in trade has helped boost purchasing power in economically weak areas of Eastern Austria, and it is therefore not surprising that the local population feels that it has had a positive impact on the Labour market: 48% of those polled in Upper Austria, 40% in Burgenland, 36% in the area of Lower Austria next to Slovakia and 34% in the area of Lower Austria next to the Czech border remarked on “positive change” in the labour market.

The only negative point highlighted by the survey was a perception that crime prompted by more contact with the East is on the increase: an impression that Die Presse points out is not confirmed by the statistics.

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