Austria‘s former Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache was recorded speaking about the countries of the Western Balkans at a secret meeting in Ibiza, Deutsche Welle reported on Monday adding that he both criticized and praised Serbia.
Strache, leader of the right-wing Freedom Party, and his close associate Johann Gudenus was forced to resign following the publication of excerpts from the video by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel magazines late last week, forcing Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to call a snap election. Deutsche Welle said that Strache confirmed the authenticity of the recording and said he had been drunk during what he thought was a meeting with a rich Russian businesswoman.
Der Spiegel published a complete transcript of the meeting during which Strache said that Serbia is a „fantastic country“ and added that several of his friends invested large amounts of money in the country. Deutsche Welle noted that Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted Strache as warning the Russian not to invest in the Balkans. According to that story, the former Vice-Chancellor said that some of his Austrian investor friends lost money on deals in Serbia.
Deutsche Welle recalled that Strache was a frequent visitor in Belgrade and the Northern-Bosnian city of Banja Luka and known to advocate "the Serb cause" in Bosnia and Kosovo.
He met with the Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik who calls Bosnia's Serb-dominated semi-autonomous entity of Republika Srpska a Serb state and speaks of its secession from Bosnia, on several occasions. The two met just this month when Dodik spoke of his reasons why he and the Serb dominated entity were against Bosnia's NATO accession.