Ex-Minister of Agriculture Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) was questioned on Thursday in the ÖVP committee of inquiry about events in her former department. She rejected allegations that her ministry had commissioned surveys with party-politically motivated content. “To be honest, I think it’s an insinuation that there was no connection with the responsibilities in the department,” she said in response to a survey held before her.
She herself was not even concerned with these things: “I personally did not commission the surveys,” she said of a survey asked by SPÖ parliamentary group leader Jan Krainer. Basically, the MPs from the SPÖ, Greens, FPÖ and Neos wanted information on the commissioning of studies, surveys and advertisements as well as on appointments in Köstinger’s term of office. The parliamentary group representatives outside of the People’s Party suspect that the ÖVP could have attached party-political issues to studies commissioned by the ministry.
Köstinger: Wasn’t involved in designing the topic
The minister, who resigned at the beginning of May, rejected all allegations right from the start. Regarding an email submitted by Krainer from Köstinger’s former head of cabinet, Gernot Maier, who is said to have obtained offers and discussed questions directly with the survey institute Demox, Köstinger said that she was seeing the document for the first time. In any case, she was not involved in the design of the topics of the surveys.
The Green MP Nina Tomaselli asked Köstinger about filling the post of the new head of the state federal gardens. Köstinger explained that she had previously been in the cabinet. You have told her that you are interested in the post, so Köstinger. But she herself had nothing to do with the order. Köstinger was also unable to contribute to other appointments for which, according to Tomaselli, there should have been no hearings. She was not involved in the orders. Köstinger also said when asked by Tomaselli that a PR company had been commissioned, that it had not been involved in the operational work.
Head of Cabinet in the evening in the U-Committee
The deputies will probably have the opportunity to question the former head of cabinet and general secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture in the evening. Maier has been invited to Köstinger – but the U-Committee is interrupted at noon by the special session of the National Council on the anti-inflation package. This met at 12 noon for an unscheduled meeting. Köstinger’s questioning will only be continued after this – only then will it be Maier’s turn.
Köstinger already a guest in the Ibiza U Committee
Köstinger used her opening statement to once again praise her work in the government – from the ban on plastic bags to the “heart project”, the mandatory designation of origin for food. A year ago, Köstinger was questioned in the Ibiza investigative committee, for example about the “Ballhausplatz project”, which was supposed to pave the way for Sebastian Kurz to become chancellor. The term is “medially constructed” she said. Otherwise she has no further perception.
The fact that the grand coalition burst was due to a certain dissatisfaction in the ÖVP, recalled Köstinger, who was a member of the European Parliament at the time. The “quite a very long coalition between SPÖ and ÖVP” triggered “a certain feeling of stagnation”. As a minister, she said she was “always very sparing” with advertisements, as they served to provide information. Also insertions in the farmer’s newspaper, which is said to be “the medium with the highest circulation in the agricultural sector”. (apa)
Editor’s note: This article was updated after Köstinger’s questioning.