THE WORLD FROM.Vienna A Former Imperial Capital Seeks to Be 'Full Partner' in Europe - and Enhance Ties between East and West

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THE collapse of communism in Europe has drastically altered the political landscape, especially as seen from this former imperial capital.

A scant three years ago, Austria was the easternmost democracy in Europe, sharing borders with communist Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Now the first two countries are fledgling democracies trying to build market economies, and Yugoslavia is violently falling apart.

The cornerstone of Austrian foreign policy was neutrality, a stance dictated not so much by choice as by necessity. The State Treaty of 1955, which led to the withdrawal of Soviet and other Allied troops, stipulated it. Now all that has changed.

Soviet objections helped keep Austria out of the European Community (EC), but it has been a member in good standing of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), along with Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland.

The upcoming EC political and economic integration in 1992 has convinced the Austrian government that EC membership is a must.

"Economically, we have links with three economic entities - southern Germany, ... Switzerland, and Lombardy {Northern Italy}," says Peter Jankowitsch, secretary of state for European economic integration. Austria does half its foreign trade in the region; EC and EFTA trade in total accounts for 75 percent.

"Out of our economic interests, but also due to our basic political interests, we ought to be part of this community, and take part ... as a full partner in the shaping of European policies," says Manfred Scheich, ambassador in charge of EC negotiations.

Progress on the road to EC membership came at the end of October, when the EC and EFTA agreed on the creation of a European Economic Area for free trade. …