Last week was the U.N. General Conference, with social events galore. My favorite event, in the “Proud Mom” category was the UNVIE Reception. The AIS String Ensemble performed throughout (our favorite violinist is on the left). We enjoyed a quick glass of bubbly, chatted with some friends, and then ducked out for a lovely supper at the little French bistro in the palais where the reception was held.
Throughout the week of the conference the UN rotunda hosts exhibits on nuclear technology from around the world. Although I’m quite good on identifying the different types of reactors by now, having a personal tour guide through the exhibits was delightful. The exhibits on the use of nuclear technology for food safety and health and medicine were quite good, as well.
Dinner conversations last week were animated, at least in our circles. You see, Austria has an “anti-nuclear” policy, and the IAEA is headquartered in Vienna, Austria’s capital. The IAEA also maintains laboratories in the country that assist with nuclear energy projects in developing countries. Details.
Austria also imports some of its electricity from its neighbors, one of whom provides said electricity from their nuclear power plant. Ahem. At the end of this year, Austria has pledged to completely ban the import of nuclear energy into its country. Just my opinion, but I don’t think this plan has real-world feasibility.
Enough digression. My favorite event last week, in the “Most Social” category was the USNRC heuriger evening. The event is more relaxed; one gets to sit and eat rather than trying to balance a glass and a plate while standing; and, at least for me, I know more people with whom to socialize.
In between I took in two exhibits at the Österreich Volkskundemuseum; the first on Ruthenian refugees, and the second, a small but interesting display commemorating 50 years of Turkish guest workers in Austria. Austria’s economy was booming in the 1960’s and more employees were needed; the Turkish, meanwhile, needed work. Agreements were signed, and the Turks came to Austria.
Through personal stories and artifacts the immigrant stories were told, of hopes and dreams, and of prejudices and adversity.
(The bottom cards indicate that the guest worker is free of illness.)
A half-century later and anti-immigration is on the rise across the EU. Earlier this year Switzerland voted to impose quotas on foreigners, and the anti-immigrant parties in other countries (including Austria) made gains in recent elections.
Anti-nuke. Anti-immigration. Could borders be resurrected next? Whatever next week may hold, this is truly an exciting time to be living in Central Europe.