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Ukrainian President to Address Austrian Parliament

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Laura Niklas
Laura Niklas
Laura Niklas is a talented journalist with a passion for uncovering under-reported stories. With over seven years of experience, she has made a name for herself in the industry with her in-depth reporting and unique perspective. Laura holds a degree in journalism from the University of Salzburg and has worked for top Austrian newspapers. Her work has been recognized with several awards and she is dedicated to delivering thought-provoking journalism to her readers. Known for her determination and integrity, Laura is a valuable member of the Austrian journalism community.
Ukrainian President to Address Austrian Parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to address the Austrian National Council for the second time on March 31, 2023. The invitation comes after an unsuccessful attempt by the Neos initiative to invite Zelensky last year, due to resistance from the Freedom Party (FPÖ).

The invitation was made by National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka, who emphasized that he did not expect any interference from the FPÖ. The event is described as a “parliamentary event” before the plenary session, and members will have the opportunity to speak after Zelensky’s statement.

The FPÖ, which has traditionally had close relations with Russia and signed a friendship agreement with the Kremlin party United Russia in 2016, criticized the invitation and announced a protest. However, the cooperation agreement between the two parties is no longer valid.

In his previous address to an Austrian audience in June 2021, Zelensky defended sanctions against Russia and warned of a “migration tsunami” from Africa. He has spoken in the parliaments of almost all 27 EU countries, with the exception of Bulgaria, where pro-Russian parties prevented such a push, and Hungary, which has not invited Zelensky to parliament.

In mid-June, Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk made a personal appearance in parliament to plead for his country to move closer to the EU. Ukraine received EU accession candidate status at the EU summit shortly after.

After the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, approximately 90,000 Ukrainians found refuge in Austria. As of the beginning of March 2023, almost 54,000 of them were in basic care, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

Zelensky’s upcoming address is likely to focus on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, as well as Ukraine’s relationship with Austria and the EU. The invitation is seen as a sign of support for Ukraine from Austria, which has been vocal in its condemnation of Russia’s actions in the region.

Zelensky’s first address to the Austrian National Council in June 2021 was well-received, with many members praising his commitment to democracy and reform in Ukraine. However, the current political climate in Austria, with the FPÖ opposing the invitation, suggests that the upcoming address may be more contentious.

Despite this, Zelensky’s commitment to Ukraine’s relationship with the EU and his willingness to engage with other countries in the region have been widely praised. As the conflict in Ukraine continues, it is likely that Zelensky will continue to play a prominent role in shaping Ukraine’s future, both domestically and internationally.

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