President Van der Bellen Addresses the Nation for a Third Time

“I don't think it's possible for us to see yet what significance this crisis will have for our society. Just as it is impossible for a drop of water to understand the course of a river.”

In his third TV address since the beginning of the Corona crisis, Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen tries to build up courage and confidence.

“Good evening.

Seven weeks have now passed since Corona struck at the core of our community. Seven weeks of trying to control this virus with everything we have. The medicine we swallow is bitter: isolation, restriction of personal rights, widespread standstill of our cultural life and economy. And although we must remain very cautious, we can also be cautiously optimistic, because the medicine works.

Dear Austrians and all people who live in Austria!

Now that the acute threat is behind us for the time being, it is time to pause for a moment, to look each other in the eye and to also admit to ourselves: all this was and is really damnably hard. For each and every one of us. I do not just mean the restrictions on our freedom. I also mean the many uncertainties we have to live with right now:

We have largely given up the certainty of our normal daily lives. We have no certainty as to when this pandemic will end. No one can say exactly when there will be a vaccination. We do not know exactly what tomorrow, next week, next month will bring.

A drop of water

What does our life with Corona look like after the initial restrictions? The prospect of economically turbulent times and high unemployment brings further uncertainty. These uncertainties make us feel unsure of ourselves. It’s normal. But fear, fear is not necessary.

Because we also have certainties. We have each other. Our community, our cohesion. We have our abilities. They will help us now, as they have in the past.  And from that we will draw confidence.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I don’t think it’s possible for us to see yet what significance this crisis will have for our society. Just as it is impossible for a drop of water to understand the course of a river. It will only be possible to recognize the significance or even something like a meaning, if at all, much later and in retrospect. But through what we do now, we can influence how we, how this time, how we will be seen later.

Making use of the time

I believe that the generations after us will see this as the time that brought out our good qualities. In which people in Austria used their own abilities and flexibility. We already see this every day. Throughout the country, people are once again placing more trust in their own strength.

I believe that this will be seen as the time when people have once again come to appreciate more the value of solidarity, personal connection and friendship. People who previously took little notice of their neighbors are suddenly there for each other. For grocery shopping, to encourage each other. To sing and make music together.

Looking back, one will see that Europe has also made use of the time. After initial mistakes in the Union, we will find our way back to the value of our political community. And to be even more supportive of one another. We will once again know the value of science as a solid basis for our society and our decisions.

Getting it done

Ladies and gentlemen,

Looking back, we will see that this was also the time when populist leaders lost their luster because their over-simplistic recipes were not adequate to a complex reality.

I believe in seizing the opportunity in the crisis, overcoming unemployment and making the turn towards a sustainable economy. With nature, not against it. For a healthy climate. Looking back, what I wish, is that people will say, that this crisis has once again brought out the best in us.

What makes me so sure? We have succeeded in doing so before. Not only for us, but for each other. That is how we will pull off this reconstruction.

Dear Austrians and all the people who live here!

I believe in the power of common symbols. One of them, a very strong one, is our national anthem: “Bravely into the new era, free and faithful see us striding forth. Cheerful in our work and rich in hope.”

Ladies and gentlemen: That’s us.

And because of this, we are going to succeed.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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