`Neutral' Austria Applies For EC Membership

AUSTRIA has formally applied to join the European Community, saying its neutrality is no obstacle to political and economic union. On Monday, Foreign Minister Alois Mock handed the brief letter of application to France's Roland Dumas, who currently chairs EC ministerial meetings. The 12 EC foreign ministers discussed Austria's membership over lunch Monday, conscious that it raised fundamental questions about the size, structure, and future direction of the community. The letter of application said Austria understood that by virtue of its treaty of accession to the EC ``she will be in a position to fulfil her legal obligations resulting from her status of permanent neutrality'' - wording which suggested that it was looking for some special provisions.

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