On May 21, the Valdai Club was planning to hold in Vienna its sixth European conference, in partnership with a number of respected Austrian organizations. It was supposed to feature leading Russian and European, including Austrian, experts. However, the Austrian co-organizers cancelled their participation on short notice. In his welcome speech at the Russian Embassy in Austria, Andrey Bystritskiy, the Valdai Club Chairman, said that this must have been caused by the recent domestic developments. “The important thing is not the problems that arise, but our attitude to them,” he said. The conference will take place in another venue (Grand Hotel Wien) and dialogue between Russia and Austria will continue against all the odds.
Below is a transcript of Andrey Bystritskiy’s speech at the Russian Embassy in Vienna.
Good afternoon! I would like to thank everyone who has come to attend our conference, helped prepare it and covers it in the media.
Quite unexpectedly, our Austrian partners, including the National Defence Academy and some others, told us several hours ago that they could not participate in the conference.
I am sure that this decision was influenced by many domestic reasons – and I would like to stress that they have nothing to do with Russia.
I believe that the important thing is not the problems that arise, but our attitude to them. Our colleagues walked out, so we were forced to somewhat amend the agenda of our conference titled “All Together or Me First? How the European Union and Russia See the Future of Multilateral Diplomacy.”
Since our Austrian partners have opted out of the event organization (in theory, everything happens, but still this is a unique case), the Valdai conference will take place tomorrow in another venue. One organizer – and even one person – is enough to hold any event, and we have quite a lot of people here.
In addition, what we are planning to discuss tomorrow is quite important. It is even more important to discuss it today, because we live in a time of recklessness and indiscretion, which often lead to ill-conceived moves. Anyway, dialogue between Russia and the EU – and, of course, Russia and Austria will continue: the Russia-Austrian relations are quite stable.