I propose to take Questions Nos. 11, 18 and 29 together.
While I understand that the Austrian government have taken a decision in principle to apply for membership of the European Community, no application has yet been made nor has the matter been discussed by the Council of Ministers.
It is open to all democratic European countries which respect human rights to make application for membership of the European Community. Austria clearly qualifies under these headings to make an application for membership. After an application is made, set procedures have to be followed, involving an opinion by the Commission and the consent of parliament, before the Council gives a view. It would not be appropriate for the Government to express a view at this stage on possible future membership by Austria or any other country.
During the visit of the Austrian ViceChancellor and Foreign Minister, Dr. Mock, to Ireland, the question of a possible Austrian application for membership of the European Community was discussed. There was also an exchange of views on international affairs, in particular East-West relations. The Minister for Foreign Affairs also availed of the occasion to brief Dr. Mock on developments in relation to Northern Ireland.
The Government's position regarding the policy of neutrality was restated by me in the Seanad on 12 April. I refer Deputy Higgins to that statement.