Israel and Austria celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations at Vienna’s Palais Lichtenstein on Friday. Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz took the occasion to talk about the past as well as to emphasize the joint and promising future for both countries.
Israel-Austria: deepen the bilateral relations further
Right before his visit to Israel on May 13 Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz attended a symposium on the occasion of the 60-year anniversary of Austrian-Israeli diplomatic relations at Palais Lichtenstein. In his speech, Sebastian Kurz talked openly about the past and emphasized the significance of a joint future: “Sincere Commemoration has to call things of the past as they were and has to acknowledge them. However, it is not sufficient to look back. Instead, we have to see commemoration as a mission for the future: We have to learn the lessons from the past and firmly stand by Israel’s side as a partner.” Kurz emphasized that Jewish life was, is and has to remain an integral part of Austria and Europe and sees an obligation of Austrian and European political circles to advocate for that.
Trip to Israel: Bilateral talks and cultural exchange
The multi-day visit to Israel will begin on Sunday, May 15. “My visit will help to further deepen our good relations. Not only will this trip include important political talks but it will also contribute to getting to know people better”, states Sebastian Kurz. In addition to bilateral talks with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his ministerial colleague Riyad Al-Malki, cultural exchange will also be a focus of the visit. On site, the “Working Holiday Programme” agreement will be signed. This agreement will allow young people to work in the other country for up to six months during their vacation. Another important exchange program in the context of the visit is youth exchange: 30 young people from Austria will get to know Israel during five days, promoting mutual understanding.
The journey will lead the Foreign Minister from Tel Aviv via Ramallah to Jerusalem. To express Austria’s special historical responsibility, the holocaust memorial Yad Vashem will be visited. Subsequently, Sebastian Kurz will meet with holocaust survivors. Moreover, the foreign minister will participate i.a. in a wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Theodor Herzl, the intellectual “father” of the State of Israel.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Austria and Israel, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem will host a reception. Oskar Deutsch (President of the Vienna Jewish Community), Dr. Danielle Spera (Director of the Jewish Museum Vienna), Dr. Ilan Knapp (Head of the Jewish Vocational Training Center Vienna and member of the Austrian Expert Board on Integration) and Daniel Kapp (Chairman of the Club of the Friends of Israel) will also be part of the Austrian ministerial delegation.