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Maas opens German-Danish Cultural Year of Friendship in Copenhagen Denmark

The Nyhavn in Copenhagen

The Nyhavn in Copenhagen, © DPA / picture alliance

08.11.2019 - Article

Understanding one’s neighbour better and learning from each other: from today, Germans and Danes can look forward to a particularly intensive exchange thanks to many events and activities over the course of one year.

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With the first German-Danish Cultural Year of Friendship, both countries are paying tribute to their special relations and to the anniversary of their peaceful border demarcation. 2020 marks the centenary of the referendums that decided the issue of the border demarcation. Today, the German-Danish border region is a successful example of the co-existence of majority and minority. Both countries are seeking to have this co-existence in the border region recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.

Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement today prior to his departure:

A century ago, Germans and Danes voted in two referendums on the border demarcation between our two countries. They did so peacefully and democratically after the mindless bloodshed in Europe during the First World War. This proximity as neighbours has today evolved into a unique form of co-existence between Germans and Danes.

The German-Danish Cultural Year of Friendship in 2020 demonstrates not just the closeness of our cultural ties. At this time when we are seeing a resurgence in nationalism, this Cultural Year of Friendship is also an important and decisive commitment to our peaceful co-existence in Europe – an achievement which we must never take for granted.

Curiosity and understanding: the German-Danish Cultural Year of Friendship

The German-Danish Cultural Year of Friendship is intended to bring citizens from both countries even closer together and increase their curiosity and knowledge about each other in many discussion forums, theatres and concert halls. For example, the Goethe-Institut will support a play dedicated to the 40,000 or so German refugees who were housed in camps in and around Aalborg, Denmark, from 1945 to 1949. The official website with the programme can be found here.

“Tyskland”, which translates quite simply as “Germany”, is the name of the exhibition that the Danish Queen will open today in Copenhagen in the presence of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod. It is an adaptation of the exhibition “Germany: memories of a nation” at the British Museum in London, which was also on display in Berlin and relates Germany’s history with various objects such as the Gutenberg Bible, the gate of the Buchenwald concentration camp and a print by Gerhard Richter. 

High approval ratings for the EU in Denmark

Pro-European parties in Denmark performed relatively well at the most recent European elections. Popular support for the EU has also risen; according to a Eurobarometer survey, 84 percent of Danes consider EU membership to be advantageous. Heiko Maas’ talks with Foreign Minister Jeppe Koford today will therefore also focus on European issues. The two Foreign Ministers will meet again on Saturday. Heiko Maas, together with his counterparts from several EU countries, will commemorate the Peaceful Revolution at the celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate. The fall of the Iron Curtain was, above all, a big step in the direction of a united Europe.

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