Hobart Rowen's excellent article "Along the Big Divide in Europe" {op-ed, Dec. 6} contains one passage that really hurts. He writes about "countries such as Turkey, Austria, Malta and Morocco that want to join their rich neighbors in the European Community."

I don't think that Austria wants to join our "rich" neighbors because they are all that richer in comparison. There is a sound reason why Austria wants to join: We do not want to be excluded from the architecture of the newly emerging Europe.

In order to back up my claim that Austria is not the poorhouse of Europe, whose inhabitants are clamoring be let into the rich men's club, I would like to quote an article from The Post: "Austrian economy {is} outperforming many Western European nations" {"Austria Finds Open Borders a Problem," Nov. 23}.

In fact, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development statistics, Austria's per-capita GDP (at current prices and exchange rates) is about that of France and within the European Community only lower than that of Germany, Luxembourg and Denmark. Any concerns voiced by EC member countries in connection with the Austrian application are certainly not based on economic considerations, because Austria, without any doubt, would be a net contributor to the EC budget. ULF PACHER Press Counselor Austrian Embassy Washington