Speech to Europe 2023

Monday, 8 May, 2023

Ukrainian Human Rights Activist Oleksandra Matwijtschuk to hold ‘Speech to Europe’ on Vienna’s Judenplatz, May 9.

© Center for Civil Liberties

On the occasion of Europe Day on May 9 and to kick off the Wiener Festwochen, the Ukrainian lawyer and activist will address the European public at 7 p.m. from Vienna’s Judenplatz.

Vienna – The exhortation “Never again!” is a reminder of the dramatic lessons of history. Today, a war of aggression, devastation and bloodshed is once again raging in Europe. Are we willing to accept that military force dictates the rules of the game, or will we fight to protect people and their freedom by means of the law? These are the guiding questions of this year’s Speech to Europe, which is subtitled “Without freedom no peace, without law no justice”. The Wiener Festwochen, ERSTE Foundation and the Institute for Human Sciences in cooperation with the Jewish Museum Vienna invite you to attend.

After a three-year break due to the corona, the event, which was launched in 2019 and this year will also open the Wiener Festwochen, is taking place for the second time. It is intended to give renowned intellectuals the opportunity to provide the European public with food for thought on the future of the European project. The venue is Vienna’s Judenplatz, a reminder that Europe can only be understood in the mirror of its history.

The first Speech to Europe was given by Timothy Snyder,  a Permanent Fellow at IWM and Professor of history at Yale University. His speech exhorted Europe to faceup to its history and discard the myth of the innocent nation-state, emphasizing that the European project is the greatest hope for the future of our time. This year’s speaker will be Oleksandra Matviichuk, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023. Her organization, Center for Civil Liberties, documents Russian war crimes and advocates for the release of illegally detained people. The human rights organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2022 for its work.

The event will be held in English. Please note that there will be no seating available on site. The speech will additionally be livestreamed.


Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.