Rivlin in Austria
Rivlin in AustriaArutz Sheva

Two Austrian fighter planes escorted President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin as he landed this morning, Wednesday, in Vienna at the beginning of his official visit to Austria. The president was received by an honor guard, reviewed by the president and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi in a ceremony at the Hofburg, the presidential palace and the national anthems of both countries were played. The president then held a working meeting with his counterpart, President of Austria Dr. Alexander Van der Bellen, during which the Chief of Staff briefed the Austrian president on security affairs, focusing on the Iranian threat.

The Chief of Staff described the failures of the current Iranian nuclear deal, which allows Iran to continue significantly increasing the number of centrifuges in the years ahead as well as the quantity and quality of enriched material. He also noted the absence of inspection in the field of nuclear weapons development, leading him to stress the dangers of returning to the original nuclear deal.

Lt.-Gen. Kochavi emphasized that everything must be done to prevent Iran from acquiring military nuclear capability and so any future agreement must include restrictions that have no end date.

Following their meeting, the two presidents made joint statements to the press.

President Rivlin thanked the Austrian president for his invitation and warm welcome, saying “Just a year ago, I had the honor of welcoming President Van der Bellen to the capital of Israel, Jerusalem, where with dozens of other leaders and heads of state, we marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and sent a clear message against anti-Semitism, hatred and racism and for Holocaust remembrance and respect for humanity. Austria’s leaders and its government take a clear stance against anti-Semitism, are promoting Holocaust remembrance and research and is protecting the Austrian Jewish community.”

The president noted the wide range of cooperation between the two countries, saying that the Abraham Accords bring hope for developing relations across the Middle East, and in particular with the Palestinians. “Alongside this moderate and positive trend, the Iranian state and its extremist proxies continue to exist and grow in strength. The international community must recognize the threat Iran poses and take an uncompromising stance against its nuclear program and its support for terrorist organizations. This is where the international community’s intervention is needed, and not in the field of international law that is being cynically exploited for political reasons in order to weaken the State of Israel. The State of Israel reserves the right and the duty to protect its citizens from any threat – from Hamas in the south, from Iran, and from its terrorist proxy Hezbollah to the north, as well as from extremist organizations active in the region. The murderous attack here in Vienna just a few months ago shows the chilling potential these organizations have to sow destruction.”

At the end of his remarks, the president thanked the Austrian government and the leaders of Austria for standing with Israel in the international arena for their commitment to Israel’s security.

The President of Austria Dr. Alexander Van der Bellen said he was very happy to host the visit, particularly at this time, saying, “Our two countries are bound together in a special bond. On one hand we share the terrible memory of the Holocaust. Thousands of Jews were murdered and many Austrians took part in these crimes. We have taken responsibility for our role in the Holocaust and we intend to continue working for Holocaust remembrance. Today, at the monument, we will pay tribute to the importance of remembrance and for caring for Holocaust survivors. We will also continue to be committed, as I am personally, to ensure that there is zero tolerance for anti-Semitism."

"The coronavirus pandemic teaches us about the importance of international cooperation. Over the past few weeks, the whole world has looked in wonder at Israel’s vaccination program, and I am happy that there is cooperation between us on this matter, and that we are sharing experience in the field. Israel and Austria continue to work on cooperation that has existed for many years. The normalization of relations with Arab states such as Bahrain, and Morocco are a significant and positive development. The president and his delegation expressed their concern about the strengthening of Hezbollah, and we will do everything possible to fight the Iranian threat. We support the international effort to address the nuclear crisis. We spoke about the Palestinian issue and about cooperation between Europe and Austria and about the current political situation in Israel, and I wished the president much success on this issue, too.”

Later in the day, the president will meet Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz and participate in a special ceremony at the Holocaust memorial in Vienna, together with the Austrian president.