June 5, 2017 — Washington, D.C.
Sebastian Kurz, Foreign Minister of Austria, delivered strong remarks to the AJC Global Forum this morning.
The foreign minister spoke via video, after having to cancel his confirmed appearance at the Global Forum because of significant and unexpected political developments in Vienna. “I regret not being able to address you in person,” he noted.
The foreign minister spoke about historical memory and responsibility regarding the Holocaust, fighting antisemitism, and Austria’s relationship with Israel. “History cannot be undone,” said Kurz, who stressed the importance of education. “After World War II, Austria took far too long to accept the terrible role many Austrians played in the Third Reich,” he said. “I want to assure you that we Austrians have a responsibility for our history. We make sure in our schools that the next generation is aware of their responsibility.”
Recalling his own education, the 30-year-old Kurz said that his “meetings with Holocaust survivors” were most influential. Their “horrifying” stores “made us really understand what the words ‘never again’ mean and that all of us clearly have a responsibility.”
The foreign minister emphasized that Austria is committed to "fighting all kinds of antisemitism,” nationally and internationally. “At a time when antisemitism in Europe is on the rise again, our response must be clear – zero tolerance.”
On Austrian-Israeli ties, Kurz said, “it was a pleasure for me to celebrate 60 years of bilateral relations [between the two countries] in Israel in 2016.”
“We have to be a strong partner of Israel,” he said. “This means working for a deepening of our political, cultural, economic and, above all, human relations.”
In addition, Austria is “committed to the Middle East peace process, to Israel’s security, and to the two-state solution,” he said.
“Minister Kurz is one of the most articulate, dynamic, and forward-looking diplomats in Europe today, and he is a good friend of Israel and the Jewish people,” said AJC CEO David Harris, who met with the foreign minister in Vienna in April.
In concluding his message, the foreign minister told the AJC audience that he plans to attend the 2018 AJC Global Forum, which will be held in Jerusalem next June.
This year's AJC Global Forum, taking place June 4-6, in Washington, D.C., is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event, bringing together more than 2,500 participants from across the United States and 70 countries around the world.