Europe

Vienna ball dropped from UNESCO Austrian heritage list

Young couples dance as the Vienna ball season opened on 31 December 2011
Image caption Vienna's ball season is currently in full swing

The Viennese ball has been dropped from a list of Austrian cultural traditions compiled by UN cultural body Unesco.

The move comes after protests from anti-fascist campaigners, who say one event that the Austrian arm of Unesco included as an example of Vienna's ball season has links to far-right politics.

Ewa Nowotny, president of Austria's Unesco commission, expressed "regret" over the listing of the WKR Ball.

The ball's organisers deny any link to the extreme right.

Every year the ball attracts demonstrations by activists who say it is attended largely by members of far-right groups, and by far-right politicians from across Europe.

This year's event, scheduled for 27 January, is expected to see similar protests.

'Denigration of Austria'

A "clarified" list of Viennese balls could be reinstated to the list of "intangible cultural traditions", Ms Nowotny said, according to local media.

But she added that Unesco's list had to reflect the body's principles, "which give a special priority to tolerance and respect for other cultures, and to esteem for cultural diversity".

Nobel Prize-winning Austrian author Elfriede Jelinek had been among those who condemned the WKR Ball's inclusion on the list.

She said the inclusion of the "scandalous event" was a "denigration of Austria", and called for the Austrian Unesco commission to resign, reports Die Presse newspaper.

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