‘Europe stands with Austria’: Leaders react to Vienna attack

Leaders around Europe sent messages of support and defiance after a deadly shooting in the centre of the Austrian capital of Vienna which the country's chancellor described as a "repulsive terror attack".

'Europe stands with Austria': Leaders react to Vienna attack
Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (L) and France's President Emmanuel Macron

One of the first to react to the deadly shootings in the centre of the city  was French President Emmanuel Macron.

He vowed Europe would not bow to terrorists 

“We French share the shock and sorrow of the Austrian people following the attack in Vienna,” Macron tweeted in both French and German.

“After France, it is a friendly nation that has been attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they're dealing with. We will concede nothing.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel said “Islamist terror is our common enemy”.

“The fight against these assassins and those who instigate them is our common struggle,” her spokesperson tweeted, adding: “solidarity” with Austria.

Germany's foreign ministry said Monday that “we cannot give in to hate that is supposed to divide our societies” following the shootings.

“Even if we can't yet foresee the extent of the terror, our thoughts are with the wounded and the victims in these difficult hours,” the ministry wrote on Twitter, calling the news from neighbouring Austria “horrifying and 

EU Council chief Charles Michel tweeted that the bloc “strongly condemns this cowardly act”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called the Vienna shooting a “cruel and cynical” crime in a condolences telegram to the Austrian leadership.

In the telegram to Kurz and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Putin “strongly condemned the cruel and cynical crime which once again confirmed the inhumane nature of terrorism”.

He “expressed confidence that forces of terror will not be able to threaten anyone or sow discord and enmity among people of different religions,” said a statement on the Kremlin website.

“Putin confirmed Russia's readiness to step up cooperation with Austria and other members of the global community in the fight against all forms and manifestations of terrorism,” it said.

Putin “conveyed words of sympathy and support to the family and friends of the victims and also wished all the wounded a quick recovery”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I am deeply shocked by the terrible attacks in Vienna tonight. The Uk's thoughts are with the people of Austria – we stand united with you against terror.”

And President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said she was “shocked and saddened by the brutal attack that took place in Vienna.

“Europe stands in full solidarity with Austria. We are stronger than hatred and terror.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said there was “no room for hatred and violence in our common European home,” while his foreign minister Luigi Di Maio tweeted that “Europe must react”. 

In the Czech Republic, which neighbours Austria, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he was “horrified by the attack… and I want to express my solidarity to all people in Austria and my friend Sebastian Kurz”.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that his prayers were with all Austrians. 

“These evil attacks against innocent people must stop. The US stands with Austria, France, and all of Europe in the fight against terrorists, including radical Islamic terrorists,” he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted his condolences on Twitter, calling the attack “horrific and heartbreaking”.

“We condemn in the strongest terms possible this act of terrorism,” he said. “Our thoughts are with the people of Austria and everyone affected by this deplorable act.”





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Vienna forced to dim street lighting and cancel some Christmas illuminations

Christmas illuminations in Vienna will also be scaled back this year as part of the city's energy saving measures.

Vienna forced to dim street lighting and cancel some Christmas illuminations

Vienna, a city known for its Christmas markets and its New Year concert, is cutting back on public lighting in the face of soaring energy prices.

“There will be no Christmas illuminations this year on the Ring,” the famous boulevard that encircles the centre of the Austrian capital, city spokeswoman Roberta Kraft told AFP.

READ MORE: Five of the biggest challenges facing Austria right now

And the lights at the Christmas market in the square in front of the city hall would only be switched on at night and not at dusk, as in previous years, “which is to say about an hour later, on average, every day”, she said.

The city authorities said they had not calculated exactly how much they would save, but the move comes after energy prices have skyrocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its response to Western sanctions.

Last Friday, the Austrian Energy Agency announced that its electricity price index for September rose by more than 256 percent year-on-year.

READ ALSO: Inflation at 9.2% in July: How to beat rising prices in Austria

Austria, with its population of nine million, is very dependent on tourism and its end-of-year celebrations are a major motor of the economy.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down much international travel, more than four million people visited Vienna’s famous Christmas markets in 2019.

In 2021, around 30 of Vienna’s shopping streets were lit up for seven hours a day, from November 12 until early January.