Austrian Elected Officials Exit Volodymyr Zelensky’s Speech Before Parliament

Over 20 elected officials from Austria’s Freedom Party (FPO) walked out of the lower house of parliament during a speech by Ukrainian President Volodoymyr Zelensky. On March 30, 2023, these politicians protested Zelensky’s speech on the grounds that it violated Austria’s neutrality in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. 

Zelensky gave his speech to the chamber through a video link from Ukraine and praised Austria for the humanitarian aid it provided and assistance with projects such as clearing land mines. 

Prior to his speech, FPO officials warned about how they organize some form of protest against his speech.  

Per Austria’s policy of neutrality,  it can’t be militarily involved in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict (along with other conflicts that don’t involve it) and can’t send Ukraine weapons in its fight against Russia.

Austrian authorities have said that they support Ukraine politically but cannot provide material support in terms of military weapons. 

“It is sad that the FPO is the only party in parliament that takes our ever-lasting neutrality seriously, thereby also standing up for peace,” FPO leader Herbert Kickl declared in a statement on March 28.

Given Austria’s rough 20th century history, its devotion to neutrality is a wise decision. The Russo-Ukrainian conflict is none of its, and most Western countries’ for that matter, concern. The best course of action countries should take in this conflict is to stay out and let the Russians and Ukrainians settle this conflict among themselves. 

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