New Year’s Reception for the Diplomatic Corps at Austrian Presidential Chancellory

More+Events ♦ Published: February 16, 2023; 16:05 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austria's President Alexander Van der Bellen hosted the New Year's reception for the Diplomatic Corps in the Ceremonial Hall of the Vienna Hofburg. Van der Bellen used his speech to clarify Austria's diplomatic goals and Austrian Neutrality.

At the New Year's reception, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen apprised the Diplomatic Corps, "Austria is not neutral to breaches of international law and war crimes." / Picture: © Österreichische Präsidentschaftskanzlei / Peter Lechner/HBF

Austria's Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen hosted a diplomatic New Year's reception at the Hofburg. On behalf of the Diplomatic Corps, Van der Bellen thanked the Most Reverend Apostolic Nuncio for the cordial wishes for the New Year and on his second term of office.

The President of Austria used the reception to present his diplomatic goals for the new year to the diplomats of the foreign missions in Vienna. The main focus was on Russia's war against Ukraine.

One hundred ambassadors came to the official residence of the re-elected Federal President for the reception. Diplomats from Russia, Belarus and Iran were not invited this time. "We are not neutral to the struggle of a country to defend its sovereignty and independence and for its freedom."

Van der Bellen once again condemned the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine "in the strongest possible terms" and stressed that Austria's stance was "by no means neutral." Austria is militarily neutral, but: "We are not neutral concerning the blatant violation of international law and war crimes," Van der Bellen said in his New Year's address to the Diplomatic Corps. "Neutrality is not indifference," Van der Bellen said.

The "brutal war of aggression" has consequences that "go far beyond Ukraine and Europe," Van der Bellen stressed, referring to shortages of food and energy sources and, as a result, high inflation rates. The Federal President called for "reducing dependencies and diversifying," saying that in Austria this applies above all to the energy sector.

In his speech, Van der Bellen also referred to "particularly severe and massive attacks on human rights" in Iran and Afghanistan, for example. In "the special year 2023, in which we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must not look away."

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Conference on Human Rights, which was instrumental in creating the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Austria will host an expert conference in June, he said.

Van der Bellen also stressed the importance of a sustainable and international climate policy and expressed his belief that "the fight against the climate emergency has always been and will remain one of my political priorities. It is the greatest global challenge we are facing, and we can only address it together, as an international community."

"Our Eastern neighbors and our partners in the Western Balkans are part of the European family," commented Van der Bellen concerning Austria's diplomatic approach towards Southeastern Europe. He voiced to the diplomatic corps, "As you know, Austria has for years been an advocate for the European integration of the Western Balkan countries. The decision taken by the European Council in December to grant EU candidate status to Bosnia-Herzegovina, the agreement on visa liberalization for Kosovo as of 2024 and finally! the beginning of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, two countries I will visit at the end of March, are positive developments and important signals sent to the entire region."

Van der Bellen assured that Austria and Vienna would not only remain as the seat of the UN, OSCE, and numerous other international organizations but would also continue to work for stronger multilateralism.

At the end of his speech, Van der Bellen said to the diplomatic corps, "As ambassadors of your countries, as mediators, you are contributing to maintaining a dialogue, fostering mutual understanding, and strengthening international cooperation" and appealed to them "to keep up commitment and to draw strength from what we have achieved so far, inspired by the vision of a future our younger generations can look forward to.

Presidential Chancellery of Austria