Numerous top politicians congratulated President Alexander Van der Bellen on his re-election, including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and colleagues from Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Lithuania, Albania, Romania, Moldova and Georgia. Liberal Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt described the election victory as a “beacon of hope and stability against the rise of far-right Putin in Europe”.
“In my opinion, your re-election is important news for all Austrians, but also for us Germans as European neighbors and friends,” Steinmeier said. He described Van der Bellen as a federal president “who believes in our common Europe and takes bold steps towards reconciliation and cooperation”. The brutal Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is a painful reminder that peace in Europe cannot be taken for granted. “It gives me hope that Austria and Germany are so close today and together with our partners in the EU and NATO support the people of Ukraine in their valiant struggle.”
On behalf of Italy, Italian President Sergio Mattarella sent “warmest congratulations” to his “best friend” Van der Bellen on Monday. The Federal President visited his Italian counterpart in Rome just three weeks ago, in the middle of the election campaign.
Congratulations also from Hofer supporters
Congratulations came from heads of state from different political camps. Remarkable, for example, were the heartfelt congratulations of Czech President Miloš Zeman, who six years ago kept his fingers crossed for Van der Bellen’s liberal opponent Norbert Hofer. It was an “immeasurable honour” that he was allowed to share much of his own presidential mandate – which expires in early 2023 – with Van der Bellen and “call him my friend,” wrote Zeman, who also invited the federal president to visit Prague.
Another former Hofer supporter, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, joined the line of benefactors. He congratulated Van der Bellen on his “clear victory,” the outgoing member of the Bosnian state presidency wrote on Twitter.
Importance of Van der Bellen for the Slovenian minority
Slovenian President Borut Pahor wished Van der Bellen every success in “responsible duties” and spoke of “statesmanlike wisdom, prudence, warmth and sensitivity”. The Social Democrat especially emphasized the importance of Van der Bellen for the Slovenian minority: “I also believe that the Slovenian community in Carinthia and Styria has in you a sincere friend and advocate for the full realization of their rights.” apologized in the presence of Borut Pahor that there had been “injustice and negligence” in protecting the minority rights of the Carinthian Slovenes.
In a German-language tweet, Hungarian President Katalin Novák said she was happy “to see us again soon in Vienna”. The confidant of authoritarian conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was one of the first to wish the re-elected Federal President well, as well as her Slovakian counterpart Zuzana Čaputová. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili expressed hope that the “strong relationship” between the two countries “will continue to grow” in Van der Bellen’s second term.
“We value solidarity in our freedom struggle”
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya thanked Van der Bellen for defending the people of Belarus “on the front lines of tyranny”. “We appreciate your support and solidarity in our freedom struggle,” Tichanovskaya said on Twitter. She posted a photo on which she can be seen with Van der Bellen in the Maria Theresazaal of the Hofburg.
Already on Sunday evening, EU Council President Charles Michel and Swiss Federal President Ignazio Cassis congratulated the Austrian head of state who had been confirmed in office. “I look forward to our continued collaboration in terms of a strong partnership,” Michel wrote. Cassis stressed that the “good neighbours” Austria and Switzerland “connect more than the Alps and Lake Constance”.
“Managing the decision makers as a green professor”
The Hungarian Green Party LMP wrote that Austrian voters have “rewarded someone who has been fighting for the Green Turn, for a sustainable economy and for society for decades”. It is hoped that Van der Bellen will also do this at an international level “and, as a green professor, steer decision-makers in the right or only acceptable direction”. In Kosovo, former Foreign Minister and current MP Behgjet Pacolli congratulated him and praised Van der Bellen’s “long-term and principled support” for Kosovo and the entire Western Balkans to move closer to the EU.
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