New Years address of the Austrian President: Talk more “with each other” than “about each other”

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In his New Year’s address on Monday, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen called for people to talk “more with each other” and “less about each other.”. Because those who only ever allow themselves to be confirmed in their own opinion will “never come to new insights,” he said, also with a view to the super election year 2024. And he called on the campaigning parties to “examine” “what they bring out of people” and whether they are “constructive forces.”

He hopes “that we, as a society, will succeed in talking more with each other again. And less about each other,” said the head of state in his traditional speech. “In recent years, we have become accustomed to talking mainly to those who already agree with us. And I believe that this is not good for our coexistence in the long term.”

“Let’s talk to each other more again,” Van der Bellen appealed. He also pleaded “that we don’t just talk at the extreme fringes. Let’s also take a look at what’s happening in the middle.” In order to get to this center, “everyone” would have to move. This has always been the Austrian way: “And I hope that we will act more like this again in the future.”

Appeal to parties: “Arguments instead of accusations”
This year, in particular, we will need to be able to talk to each other, the President said, referring to the many upcoming elections in 2024, including the EU elections, the National Council elections, two regional elections, and local council elections. With regard to the expected election campaigns, Van der Bellen said that the campaigning parties should succeed in “exchanging arguments instead of accusations and ideas instead of curses.”

And people are welcome to argue constructively, but they should “never leave the ground of reason.”. “I have nothing against emotions—quite the opposite. But in election campaigns, they are usually used when the arguments run out. And then they rarely bring out the best in us,” warned Van der Bellen.

“Common sense for our homeland”
He urged citizens to take a closer look at which parties are available: “Please also examine and judge the campaigning parties according to what they bring out in people. This is a very good way of recognizing whether they are constructive forces or not.” He would like to see “common sense for our homeland” and “common sense in all political parties”. Because there will also be a time after the election, “and we should all still be able to look each other in the eye”.

“Don’t tamper with the facts”
The President also explicitly addressed the climate crisis: “There will also be a time after our time. I hope that our children and grandchildren will still find a planet worth living on, an Austria worth living in.” The climate emergency and the greenhouse effect are scientifically proven, “and we all experience the consequences every day, every week, and every month”.

“How ignorant do you have to be—how removed from nature—not to realize that?” said Van der Bellen. Science and facts—the truth—would not change “just because we don’t believe them.”. That’s why, for 2024, he also hopes “that we don’t tamper with facts that can’t be tampered with. Let’s rather use our energy to solve the problems.”

“May 2024 be even better than you expect”
At the same time, the 79-year-old called for “more confidence.”. Austria is an “efficient society”, “a resourceful, compassionate, peace-loving, and benevolent society”. The country has all the skills and qualities it needs to build a good future: “Our science and research. Our art. Our economy. Our strength and energy. Our curiosity. Our openness. Our solidarity. Our people,” said Van der Bellen. “We all contribute something.” “I wish you a great year 2024. May it be even better than you expect.”

  • source: ORF.at/Agencies/picture: screenshot: orf.at
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