On Monday, 28 March 2022, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and Minister of the Economy Margarete Schramböck departed for a two-day working visit to Israel. In addition to a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid, their itinerary also included the opening of a new ropeway in Haifa, built by the Vorarlberg-based company Doppelmayr. With a ceremony granting Austrian citizenship to descendants of those persecuted by the Nazi regime, a meeting with Holocaust survivors, and a visit to the international Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, the trip was also an occasion for reflection.
The focus of Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg’s meeting with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid was on strengthening and reinforcing bilateral relations. In addition, the two foreign ministers addressed the normalisation process between Israel and several Arab states as well as the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and its effects on the Middle East.
We must face the fact that war has returned to Europe. And history shows us that wars which begin in Europe do not always remain within Europe. Here, too, Austria and Israel have the same approach, in which we are trying to establish lines of communication,
stated Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, emphasising the global impact of Russian aggression.
Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg also had a clear message about the latest terrorist attacks in Israel, which he condemned in the strongest terms. Terrorism, he said, must not be allowed to undermine the foundations of a free society. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg once again stressed that Austria and Israel stand side by side in this fight and guaranteed Israel Austria’s full support. As a further sign of this strong bilateral relationship, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg also announced the upcoming signing of a strategic partnership.
The trip also aimed at promoting bilateral economic relations and strengthening Austria’s position as an economic centre. The enormous potential for Austrian companies, especially in infrastructure projects and in the future-oriented sectors of environmental technology, waste management and the energy industry, was explored. Thus, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and Minister of the Economy Margarete Schramböck also took part in the opening ceremony for a new aerial ropeway in Haifa, built by the Vorarlberg-based company Doppelmayr.
In addition, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg used his visit as an opportunity to grant Austrian citizenship to five Israeli citizens. For Alexander Schallenberg, the amendment of the Citizenship Act to include descendants of those persecuted by the Nazi regime represents an important step in the right direction.
The opportunity to grant this citizenship was very moving for me. It is our moral and political duty to keep the memory of the crimes of the Shoah alive, and to fight every form of antisemitism. We will not squander the trust that our new Austrians have put in us,
said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.
Finally, during his visit to the Yad Vashem remembrance centre, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg remembered the Israeli foreign minister’s visit to the Mauthausen concentration camp at the beginning of the year. He emphasised that Austria was mindful of its guilt and that the joint visit to the memorial marked a historical moment for relations between Austria and Israel.