“Must not happen”: Austrian President warns on TV

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Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen addressed the nation on National Day. He pleaded for cohesion and warned against the consequences of divisive politics.

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen gave his traditional National Day speech on Thursday evening. October 26, he said, was a day to celebrate all of Austria. Democracy, equality, human rights and peace are all reasons to celebrate. The latter gains importance in times like these: “We cannot be grateful enough for this peace. Because we live in a world in which this peace is anything but a matter of course,” said the head of state.

He said it was impossible to predict where the brutal attack by Hamas terrorists or the Russian aggression against Ukraine would go. “The cold, calculating and systematic way in which children, mothers, and fathers were targeted, how they were tortured and killed without any compassion, that reminds in its deep, hopeless darkness of the blackest times in our history,” the president said in a strong condemnation of the terrorist attack. The people who are least able to protect themselves—children, women, and men—end up taking the brunt of the damage, he claimed. “This is the inexorable logic of hatred, aggression, terror, and war.”
He said it is our responsibility, especially in light of the barbaric acts perpetrated on our soil against fellow Jews, to stand up strictly and from the bottom of our hearts against any form of anti-Semitism. “Anti-Semitism has no place here. Hate has no place here,” Van der Bellen said.

Many things, like wars, inflation, pandemics, and the climate catastrophe. A lot, I know. I understand all those who find it too much,” the president said sympathetically. He said he understands those who opt out of the news stream now and then. But he still appealed to never completely lose sight of what’s essential. “We can never be apathetic about the direction the world and our nation are taking. We must never get to the point where we divide the world into some and others.” That must not happen, he warned.

Van der Bellen also spoke about the role of politics in times of crisis. It was “our responsibility as politicians” not to fall into supposedly simple explanatory models to maximize votes, “which in the end drive our society apart.” He stressed that there are no easy solutions and appealed: “Populism does not solve our problems! We must strive for truthfulness. And we must work together.”

He, therefore, called on all politicians in the country not to get lost in sideshows and sham discussions. “That doesn’t help anyone,” the president said, personally addressing political representatives of all parties: “Concentrate on your essential tasks and the solution of concrete problems and refrain from obfuscation and distraction.”

Not to mention, Van der Bellen addressed the group of people he hoped would have discernment once more. “Let’s not forget that in this time, as dark and confusing as it may seem, there is still light: ourselves!” Despite all the differences of opinion, everyone should be there for each other because “Austria is the homeland of us all.” The President said, “Let us value this country and each other.”

  • source: heute.at/picture: screenshot – orf.at
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