Dep FM brands as "absurd" Austrian FM's criticism of Lavrov visa refusal

"This is a completely incomprehensible, an absurd statement, which unfortunately forms part of the bad tradition of the Austrian foreign ministry," Jabłoński said. Leszek Szymański/PAP

A Polish deputy foreign minister has dismissed as "completely absurd" a statement by Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg criticising Poland's decision to refuse Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, permission to attend an OSCE meeting in Poland last year.

The refusal to grant a visa meant that Lavrov was unable to attend the OSCE Ministerial Council sitting in the city of Łódź last December.

According to media reports, during a meeting on Monday with his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, Schallenberg called for a loosening of European restrictions on Moscow and criticised Poland's decision to refuse Lavrov a visa.

Speaking on public radio on Wednesday, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński said the Austrian foreign minister's statements showed that "that pro-Russianness is still very strong in many countries of Europe, it sometimes reaches into the highest echelons of government."

"If someone says that sanctions are too strong or that Poland should let in the Russia foreign minister, actually a collaborator in these crimes - after all the Russian government apparatus is responsible for that, these slogans about the alleged denazification of Ukraine, which are actually a justification for genocidal intentions, the extermination of Ukraine as a separate state, a separate nation, then these are completely unacceptable things in the family of civilised countries guided by the principles of international law," Jabłoński said.

The deputy minister went on to say that if such people were to be honoured "on the same principles as we honour other sensible politicians" then something would be very wrong.

"This is a completely incomprehensible, an absurd statement, which unfortunately forms part of the bad tradition of the Austrian foreign ministry," Jabłoński continued, going on to highlight that one of Schallenberg's predecessors, Karin Kneissl, danced with Vladimir Putin at her wedding reception and was later rewarded with lucrative work in return for her pro-Russian policies.

Asked about the possibility of a diplomatic note on the matter of Schallenberg's comments, Jabłoński said: "We will consider further actions in the matter because we believe these things are wrong, they should certainly not take place. Especially if in the European Union we all agree, and Austria is in this group... we agree that sanctions on Russia must be continued (and) be severe."