Austrian Chancellor Visits Israel: "Possible Partner for Future Gas Purchases"

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: July 13, 2022; 11:19 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austria's Chancellor travelled to Israel this week to meet with Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid. During his visit, the Chancellor expressed interest in Israel's weapons technology and future gas supplies. Besides signing a strategic partnership, Nehammer also visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.

Chancellor Nehammer and Prime Minister Yair Lapid met this week in Tel-Aviv. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Florian Schrötter

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Tel Aviv this week at the Prime Minister's Office in the Kirya. After a one-on-one conversation, an extended meeting was held with the two heads of government, during which, in addition to numerous expressions of friendship, the two discussed in detail, among other things, the security challenges as well as the regional issues on the agenda, in particular the Iranian threat.

Prime Minister Lapid assured Austrian Chancellor Nehammer that he considered him a true friend of the State of Israel and thanked him for his support of Israel both in the European Union and at the multilateral level.

Prime Minister Lapid stressed the importance of international public awareness of the agreement and concern about the continuation of Iran's nuclear programme.

The two men also spoke about the war in Ukraine and its impact on the Middle East.

The main point of the day was the signing of a document establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries of Israel and Austria in the fields of security, especially cyber and counter-terrorism, health in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, tourism, technology, innovation, trade, investment promotion, the fight against climate change, green technologies and digitalisation.

The Prime Minister and the Austrian Chancellor also discussed deepening bilateral cooperation based on the partnership between the countries in the fight against anti-Semitism and in measures to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.

Following the meeting with Prime Minister Lapid, Chancellor Nehammer summed up: "Israel has a high level of military competence and a very efficient arms industry. In this respect, Austria has some catching up to do, so the defence budget should be increased."

"Of particular interest are drone and missile defence. We cannot completely rule out a threat from drones; after all, 500 kilometres from our borders there is a country at war. It is now a matter of examining which systems are suitable for the Austrian Armed Forces," said the Austrian head of government.

Potential cooperation in the field of energy security was also discussed, as Israel could help Austria out of its precarious dependence on Russian natural gas.

"Israel is also a possible partner with regard to its large gas discoveries off the coast in terms of future gas purchases. It is assumed here that it will be able to cover 10 per cent of the European Union's gas demand in the next 2 years. In the course of the crisis situation, the EU Commission is challenged", Karl Nehammer stated. OMV had to be put in a good position as long as the European platform did not function.

Remembrance of the victims of the Nazi regime

The remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust also plays a special role during the stay in Israel. After a reception for the former Austrians in Jerusalem, the Federal Chancellor visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.

There he lit a flame in memory of the Jews murdered by the Nazis and apologised for the role of Austrian Nazi perpetrators: "The crimes of that time must never be forgotten and must never be repeated."

Nehammer also awarded Austrian citizenship to descendants of Nazi victims. The Federal Chancellor was accompanied during his visit to Israel by Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner and the President of the Jewish Community Oskar Deutsch.

The programme also included talks with Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, starting with a visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Israel as an important partner in security issues

Austria's Interior Minister Gerhard Karner held talks with representatives of Israeli security authorities. "Police cooperation, especially in combating cybercrime, was an essential part of today's talks," said Interior Minister Gerhard Karner during the exchange between the two parties.

Karner said that Israel was an important partner in matters of security and that there was close cooperation in matters of state protection, criminal police and in the cooperation of EKO Cobra and Israeli special units.

Federal Chancellery of Austria

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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