Van de Bellen quotNeutrality is not indifferencequot

Van de Bellen: "Neutrality is not indifference"

Austria is not neutral on violating international law, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen said in his New Year’s address to the diplomatic corps in the Hofburg.

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen again condemned Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine “in the strongest possible terms” and stressed that Austria’s position “is not neutral”. Austria is militarily neutral, but: “We are not neutral with regard to the flagrant violation of international law and war crimes,” Van der Bellen said in his New Year’s address to the diplomatic corps on Tuesday in the Hofburg.

“Neutrality is not indifference,” said Van der Bellen. For the past two years, the traditional reception has taken place online due to the corona pandemic. This year, a hundred ambassadors visited the official residence of the re-elected federal president. Diplomats from Russia, Belarus and Iran were not invited this time. “We are not neutral towards a country’s struggle to defend its sovereignty and independence and for its freedom.”

Van der Bellen complains of massive attacks on human rights

The “brutal war of aggression” has consequences that “reach far beyond Ukraine and Europe”, emphasized Van der Bellen, referring to shortages of food and energy sources and the resulting high inflation rates. The federal president called for “reduction and diversification of dependencies”, which in Austria applies above all to the energy sector. “The fight against climate catastrophe has been and remains one of my political priorities,” he said, calling it “the greatest global challenge” that can only be solved “together, as an international community of states”.

In his speech, Van der Bellen also referred to “particularly serious and massive attacks on human rights” in Iran and Afghanistan, for example. In “the special year 2023, in which we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must not look the other way”. E: On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Human Rights Conference, which made a decisive contribution to the creation of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Austria will hold an expert conference in June. Austrian Volker Türk has been the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since last year.

Van der Bellen also assured that after the “tragic” earthquake in Turkey and Syria, Austria will continue to do “the best it can” to “provide humanitarian aid”.