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Saturday June 21, 2014 MYT 5:30:02 PM
Saturday June 21, 2014 MYT 5:31:20 PM
SPIELBERG Austria (Reuters) - European Union leaders are likely to override objections from British Prime Minister David Cameron and elect Jean-Claude Juncker president of the European Commission, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann told a newspaper.
Faymann is a Social Democrat but has publicly backed the conservative Juncker for the top Commission job because centre-right parties took first place in European Parliament elections last month.
"Juncker is not negotiable," Faymann told the Kleine Zeitung in an interview published on Saturday. "If needed, Cameron should be outvoted by a qualified majority. We cannot allow a single person to dictate everything to us."
Britain is trying to delay selection of a new Commission president, British officials said on Friday, seeking further talks on an alternative to former Luxembourg premier Juncker.
The effort to block Juncker, seen in London as a bar to EU reform, comes before a meeting of EU leaders in Belgium next week. Momentum is gathering to choose Juncker for one of Europe's most influential policy jobs.
If Cameron fails to block Juncker, his authority at home and abroad would be diminished, his pledge of trying to renegotiate Britain's EU ties if re-elected undermined, and his ability to keep his own Eurosceptic lawmakers in line lessened.
But the Commission presidency is elected by a "qualified majority" - larger countries get more votes than smaller ones. Without the backing of big countries like Germany, Cameron would need the support of a number of smaller countries, equal to about 38 percent of the EU population. He looks increasingly unlikely to win that much support.
On other subjects, Faymann defended Austria's decision to host a visit next week by Russian President Vladimir Putin despite a standoff with the West over Ukraine.
"We are not rolling out the red carpet," Faymann said, reiterating that neutral Austria saw the visit as an opportunity to help bridge the East-West divide through dialogue.
"We are not budging a millimetre from our values and will tell Mr Putin that we condemn the annexation of Crimea. International law is not negotiable," he said.
Russia absorbed Crimea after a pro-Western uprising toppled Moscow-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, touching off a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Larry King)
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