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Central European Solidarity With Ukraine: Foreign Minister Schallenberg Visits the Country With His Czech Counterpart

AUSTRIA, July 19 - On 19 July 2022, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg travelled to Kyiv with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský. In addition to talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the agenda also included visits to the war-torn cities of Hostomel and Irpin, which bear witness to the sheer brutality of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The trip had originally been planned in the Slavkov format (Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic), but Slovakian Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok was forced to cancel at the last minute due to a COVID-19 infection.

Our trip in February and today’s visit are a clear sign of solidarity from the Slavkov 3. Our message to Russia is loud and clear: We will not allow the borders to be redrawn using tanks and rockets. We do not accept that might makes right. So once again, dear Dmytro, I am pleased to reaffirm our Central European solidarity,

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg assured his Ukrainian counterpart.

For Austria, therefore, it is only natural to provide support to Ukraine – in particular by supporting sanctions against Russia and providing extensive financial aid. Since the start of the Russian aggression on 24 February 2022, Austria’s financial support for the Ukrainian population in Ukraine and in particularly impacted neighbouring states has totalled more than 80 million euros, including 61.5 million from the Relief Fund for Disasters Abroad (AKF). These funds benefit the “Nachbar in Not” (Neighbour in Need) organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations Children’s Fund and multiple Austrian NGOs, among others. In addition, Austria is assisting Ukraine by caring for the wounded, and has taken in more than 80,000 Ukrainian refugees to date.

Austria regularly takes part in international aid campaigns and continues to make every effort to reduce the suffering of the civilian population in Ukraine. We will remain in solidarity with Ukraine. As soon as it is possible, we will rebuild this country in order to give people hope for the future again,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

On the question of a possible settlement of the war of aggression, Foreign Minister Schallenberg emphasised that every effort had to be made to this end, but that it could not happen without Ukraine’s agreement. A peaceful solution could not be imposed on the country from the outside.

Certainly the terms of peace cannot be dictated by Russia,

stressed Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

The foreign ministers also visited the airport in the Kyiv suburb of Hostomel as well as the city of Irpin, which had become sites of Russian war crimes. Here the ministers were able to see the full scope of the atrocities of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

The images get under your skin. Before 24 February, we would not have been able to imagine inhuman atrocities and bloodshed like the war crimes committed in Bucha, Irpin and other Ukrainian cities, right in our neighbourhood,

said Foreign Minister Schallenberg.

In light of these images, Foreign Minister Schallenberg recently underlined that the responsible parties must not go unpunished, but must be held to account. Consequently, Austria as well as Slovakia and the Czech Republic belong to a group of more than 40 countries that have referred the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC). In addition, the Foreign Ministry is providing the prosecutor’s office of the ICC with 100,000 euros to support the investigation of the war crimes committed in Ukraine.

The trilateral group of Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic was established in Slavkov (German name: Austerlitz) in late January 2015. The aim of this format is to improve the cooperation between the three countries. The Slavkov foreign ministers had already travelled to Ukraine on 7 February 2022, just a few weeks before the start of the Russian war of aggression.