Austrian right-wing lawmakers walk out as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a speech and leaves a small placard on the table. Photo/Al Jazeera
ANOTHER – Lawmakers from the pro-Russia right-wing Freedom Party voted to walk out (WO) from the lower house of parliament Austria during the President’s speech Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky .
Zelenskyy addressed the assembly via video link on Thursday (30/3/2023), in which he thanked Austria for its humanitarian assistance and assisting with projects such as clearing landmines.
Right-wing politicians said they protested the speech because it violated Austria’s principle of neutrality.
MPs leaving the chamber left small placards on their desks featuring the party’s logo and “room for neutrality” or “room for peace”.
Austria says its neutrality prevents it from getting involved militarily in the conflict. Despite supporting Ukraine politically, he was unable to send weapons to the country in its fight against the Russian invasion.
However, the Freedom Party (FPO) had warned days earlier that it would hold some sort of protest against Zelenskyy’s speech. His MP attended the start of the speech and then left.
“It is sad that the FPO is the only party in parliament that takes our perpetual neutrality seriously, thereby also defending peace,” FPO leader Herbert Kickl said in a statement on Tuesday.
Of the five parties in parliament, the FPO has the third largest number of seats in the lower house. They currently have a slight lead in opinion polls over the conservative opposition Social Democrats and Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who rules in a coalition with the leftist Greens.
Austria’s current parliament runs until autumn next year.
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