Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Tuesday, 25 April 2017), in Jerusalem, met with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"We commemorated together Holocaust Remembrance Day. You were there with your wife, and it was deeply significant – your being there and also the fact that you've taken a consistent position against Holocaust denial, against anti-Semitism. You've been very forthright about the historical legacy and the historical imperatives that the Holocaust requires of all of us. And I want to thank you for this and express our deep appreciation from the people of Israel to you.
Your mother helped bring food to Jews hiding in Vienna, and you honor her legacy and I think you honor human legacy which is important for all of us.
We face great challenges here in Israel and across the world. To your right there's a man who spent a great deal of time in Vienna, Theodore Herzl, and he believed that the only way that the Jewish people could overcome the challenges that were facing Europe and the Jewish people at the time was to forge anew our independence in our ancestral homeland. He spoke of a Jewish army. He said a Jewish army would be able to defend the Jewish state. People thought he was absolutely mad. And he said that it would be a great army and a moral army. And indeed that is exactly what we have fashioned – a moral state with a moral army and with a good economy.
We are both small states, Austria and Israel, similar in population. We have high income per capita, but we know that the challenge is twofold – one is to ensure the continual march of our peoples and the world to modernity against the forces that want to take us back to an early medievalism. Fighting radical terror is something that joins all of us, and is a continual obligation. But equally, seizing the opportunities of the future I think is an obligation of leaders and societies. The future belongs to those who innovate. The only way that we can continually sustain high growth for our economies is through technology and innovation.
I know that you understand this intimately and I know too that our policies, each of us separately, are moving in that direction. But I think that in the course of the conversation that we will have, we can make sure that we can do it together. We can achieve more together than separately, and there's a lot to achieve to promise a future of prosperity and security and peace for our peoples."
Austrian Chancellor Kern:
"At the end of our trip here to Israel, I would like to come to a conclusion which is that I'm really so impressed about your hospitality and the warm welcome. For me, it was deeply moving to be present at the ceremony yesterday and the day before yesterday. And what I found especially impressive was direction of your people expressing their gratitude for our visit.
But you've done is something which goes without saying, and it's absolutely unprecedented. Because if you look at our history and our legacy, then for sure we have a moral duty. And it took us so long in Austria to acknowledge our responsibility for the Holocaust. And it's over now, latest since the speech of the former chancellor Franz Vranitzky in the Knesset in 1993, and we can build on that today.
And we have so strong relations. It was 60 years ago we started diplomatic relations and my personal belief is that we have stronger ties than ever to your country. You should know that we are really true friend of Israel and the Jewish people in Austria and all over the world. And true friendship means that we encounter together the big challenges of our times and discussing behind closed doors if we have issues, which we really appreciate.
But for the time being I think there is a lot more we can contribute to the development in the region. I think we are member of the European Union. Definitely the Union is punching below its weight here in the region because we are one of the biggest donators in Palestine. Seventy percent of the exports of the region go to Europe, and I think it makes a lot of sense to contribute more to a peaceful and prosper development. And that's what we wanted to hear. The relations, the economic relations are pretty good. Tourism is at a record level, investment is at a record level.
But what was also very impressive was when I was visiting Yad Vashem and listening to the ceremony and your impressive speech and the speech of the president and watching the young people there. You get a better understanding why you are such a strong economic nation as well, because I think there is a direct line, that's at least it's my interpretation, between what happened in the Holocaust and your strength today. And we have seen some of your ventures which were really impressive and I'm sure there could be a lot of lessons, learn a lot from your experience, learn a lot of how to be successful in a start-up world.
You call yourself a start-up nation and it's definitely not exaggerated. The whole world is looking at you as a role model, so I'm looking very much forward to increasing our cooperation and bringing it to new levels."