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Gauck calls for unity in European foreign policy as Austria marks post WWII milestone

German President Joachim Gauck has called on the EU to show unity in its foreign policy. He was speaking in Vienna 70 years to the day since the founding of the second Austrian republic.

At celebrations held in Vienna on Monday to mark seven decades to the day since Austria laid the foundations for its post-World War Two regime, President Gauck spoke of how while battles still raged Berlin, a new Austrian government proclaimed the restoration of a democratic republic.

"Filled with relief, the people of Vienna danced the waltz through the ruins of their city," Gauck said according to a manuscript of his speech published on his official website, adding that "the citizens of the republic of Austria and the citizens of Germany know full well why we recognize the end of the national socialist reign of terror as liberation."

Threats to European unity, security

In reference to current events, Gauck said that in some European and EU countries, he saw threats to the rule of law and pluralism, in others the growth of populist and nationalist movements and parties. Gauck also referred to Britain's precarious position in the EU and the danger posed by Islamist terror organizations as reasons why a "coordinated and collective" EU-wide approach to foreign policy was needed.

"If there's no longer any guarantee that human rights will be respected everywhere in Europe, then the members of the European Union have to reflect anew on their common security," he said, urging unity in Europe in the face of the

current conflict in Ukraine.

Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt were greeted by Austrian President Heinz Fischer (pictured above.) Germany's President was due to travel to Tunisia later on Monday.

se/bw (dpa, www.bundespraesident.de)

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