Ladies and Gentlemen,
I address you deeply saddened in this dark hour for our republic. Yesterday, our Republic of Austria and our people became the target of a brutal terrorist attack.
Four defenseless civilians were murdered in cold blood at close range. An elderly gentleman, an elderly lady, a young passer-by and a waitress were suddenly and unexpectedly robbed of their lives. An officer on duty, who courageously stood in the way of the perpetrator, was shot and wounded.
A total of 14 other people were injured, some of them seriously, and some of them are still fighting for their lives. Our sympathy goes out to the bereaved of the victims, all the wounded and of course to all the people who suffered severe physical and psychological wounds as a result of this attack yesterday.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
We often see Austria as an island of the blessed, where violence and terror are only known from reports about foreign countries. But the sad truth is that while we are fortunate enough to live in a fundamentally very safe country, our world is anything but safe.
It has now been confirmed that yesterday’s attack was clearly an Islamist terrorist attack. It was an attack out of hatred – out of hatred for our basic values, for our way of life, for our democracy, in which all people are equal in rights and dignity.
Last night will therefore tragically go down in our history as a night in which some of our fellow human beings fell victim to a brutal attack. An attack that, in truth, was aimed at all of us. An attack on our free society. But one thing is clear: We will not be intimidated by the terrorists.
We will defend our basic values, our way of life and our democracy with all our might. We will seek out and hunt down the perpetrators, the people behind them and any like-minded people and bring them to justice. And we will pursue all those who have anything to do with this outrage with all the means at our disposal.
But at the same time, ladies and gentlemen, there is one thing we will not do.
We will not fall into their trap.
We must and will counter terrorism with all means at our disposal. But we must not lose sight of something essential. Our enemy – Islamist extremism – not only wants to cause death and suffering, it also wants to divide our society. And we will not allow this to happen. We will not give room to this hatred.
Because our enemy is never all members of a religious community. Our enemy is never all people who come from a certain country. No, our enemy is the extremists and terrorists. They have no place in our society, because in our free society there must be no tolerance for intolerance.
We must all be aware that this is not a conflict between Christians and Muslims or between Austrians and migrants.
No, this is a fight between the many people who believe in peace and those few who want war. It is a fight between civilization and barbarism. And we will fight this fight with all our determination.
As affected as we are by the events of last night, we can also be grateful for the incredible solidarity that exists in our country. Our thanks go to the security forces, which are still on duty safeguarding the security of the population in our country. Our thanks go to the first responders, some of whom have risked their lives to help other people.
But our thanks also go to all the people who distinguished themselves yesterday by their courage and mettle, by caring for the wounded or by recording videos and uploading them later on the platform of the police, thus making a valuable contribution to the investigation.
And our thanks, I would also like to mention at this point, go to all our international partners who expressed their solidarity just last night. From France’s Emmanuel Macron to Jacinda Ardern from New Zealand. Countless of our European and international partners personally expressed their solidarity with me and thus with us last night and promised us all their support. Together with our international partners, we will lead the fight against extremism and terrorism.
United by the rule of law, our liberal democracy and our fundamental values, we stand side by side to defend peace and security, not only in Austria, but also in Europe and throughout the world.
I have asked the Minister of the Interior to work with all available forces to investigate this attack. In the meantime, the Austrian Armed Forces have taken over the full protection of buildings in Vienna so that the police can concentrate all their forces on the investigation. We have also convened the National Security Council to discuss the current situation and the next steps with all relevant authorities of the Republic.
And together with the Federal President, the representatives of the parliamentary parties, the Mayor and the Vice-Chancellor, we will also jointly commemorate the victims of the attack today, and I invite you, ladies and gentlemen, to attend an Austria-wide minute’s silence for the victims of yesterday’s attack at noon.
We will never forget the victims of yesterday evening and together we will resolutely defend our basic values.
Thank you very much.
The chancellor’s original speech in German can be found here.