The multi-linguist surprised the UN General Assembly

The Austrian Foreign Minister, gave a speech to the UN General Assembly in Arabic.

“As the minister of foreign affairs in Austria, I’m able to address you in Arabic,” Karin Kneissl told the UN.


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In her speech, she touched on climate change, the current conflict in Syria and Yemen and the global refugee crisis.

Following her speech, she explained why she chose to begin her speech in Arabic. “Arabic is one of the six languages of the United Nations,” she said. “It is a beautiful and important language and part of the Arab and ancient civilization.”

Karin learnt the language in Vienna and Beirut. “I studied in Lebanon during the years of [the Civil] War; I learned how people continue with their lives despite all odds and difficulties – this is the secret to life,” she said.

She received a warm welcome from the General Assembly, who praised her for her linguistic abilities as she flawlessly switched from French to Spanish to English. She later quoted a Latin phrase.

Karin later paid tribute to the city of Byblos in Lebanon on her Twitter account, where she spoke candidly about how she was moved to return.

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