Foreign Policy Committees of the Austrian Parliament and the Ukrainian Parliament Discuss Situation in Ukraine

PeopleOther ♦ Published: May 23, 2022; 18:49 ♦ (Vindobona)

Members of the Austrian Parliament exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine with representatives of the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament.

Members of the Austrian Parliament exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine with representatives of the Ukrainian parliament via Videochat. / Picture: © Parlamentsdirektion / Johannes Zinner

Today, members of the Austrian National Council exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine with representatives of the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, via video conference.

As members of the respective foreign affairs committees of their parliaments, the deputies discussed the European perspectives of the Eastern European country and the possibilities of supporting Ukraine in defending its independence.

Ukainian representatives

From the Ukrainian side, the representatives of the Verkhovna Rada, Oleksandr Merezhko, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Interparliamentary Cooperation, presented Ukraine's current foreign policy efforts.

He underlined the good relations between the two countries and explicitly thanked Austria for the humanitarian aid it had already provided, both through aid deliveries, the "Neighbor in Need" campaign and the reception of refugees.

As far as a ceasefire and conflict resolution through diplomacy are concerned, Ukraine must now first and foremost fend off Russian aggression.

At present, he said, there was no sign of any willingness on the part of the other side to engage in serious negotiations. Ukraine, therefore, needs further support from Europe in every respect. He stressed, this not only concerns support for defense efforts, but also the tightening of sanctions against Russia. It must be ensured that Russia cannot continue to finance its war against Ukraine by means of oil and gas revenues.

Merezhko was convinced that the status as a candidate for EU membership would also give his country greater security. Therefore, he said, this status is of vital interest to Ukraine.

This position was supported by other Ukrainian deputies of the Committee or the Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs of the Verkhovna Rada. Mariia Ionova, Olena Khomenko, Iryna Gerashchenko, Anna Hurova and Bohdan Yaremenko pointed out in unison that Ukraine needed clear support for its EU accession bid.

Ukraine is ready for negotiations, but the territorial integrity and the lives of its citizens cannot be at stake.

Austrian representatives

On the Austrian side, Pamela Rendi-Wagner (SPÖ) as chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council and her parliamentary group colleague Harald Troch participated in the exchange of ideas. Reinhold Lopatka and Martin Engelberg from the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic and Faika El-Nagashi from the Green Party, Peter Schmiedlechner from the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and Helmut Brandstätter from the NEOS took part in the discussion.

Committee Chairwoman Rendi-Wagner underlined that just like the entire EU, Austria and the Austrian Parliament has already condemned Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine several times in clear terms.

Europe speaks with one voice here, said Rendi-Wagner. Austria could not give support in military terms due to its neutrality, but of course, there was no neutrality towards war crimes. Austria is, therefore, ready to support the documentation and clarification of human rights violations, she added.

Rendi-Wagner stressed that the perspective of diplomacy and negotiations should not be lost sight of. She, therefore, hoped that the time for a ceasefire would soon come, after which negotiations for a peaceful solution would also be possible again.

There was a broad consensus among Austrian parliamentarians that Austria should provide full support to Ukraine within the limits of what its neutrality policy allows.

Austrian Parliament