Foreign Minister Steinmeier travelled to Slovakia yesterday, on the Day of German Unity. Historical and current issues are closely intertwined in that country.
Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava – the names of many cities in our eastern neighbouring countries are just as inextricably linked to German reunification as Leipzig or Berlin. The peaceful revolution and the reunification of the two German states would never have been possible without the courage of people in many Central European countries.
Past and future
27 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Foreign Minister Steinmeier travelled to Bratislava to celebrate 3 October together with the Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák. Steinmeier came together with his Slovak counterpart and numerous guests at the invitation of the German Ambassador. Before that, he met Slovak Prime Minister Róbert Fico for an in‑depth exchange on European issues.
Bratislava is not only an important city in German and European history but is equally relevant to Europe’s future. “Just as the peaceful revolution back then depended on the courage shown by the Slovak people, the European Union today and in the future depends on the contribution made by Slovakia and the other “Visegrad states”,” Steinmeier said in his speech. The Visegrad group consists of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
The “spirit of Bratislava”
Slovakia will hold the Presidency of the EU Council until the end of the year. The Heads of State and Government therefore met in Bratislava in mid‑September. Since then, there has been much talk of the “spirit of Bratislava”: in view of new challenges such as Brexit or the large-scale movement of refugees, member states initiated a process of reflection at Bratislava Castle.
On the Day of German Unity, Bratislava thus combines Europe’s history and its future. In his speech, Steinmeier therefore not only thanked Slovakia but also made an appeal: “Europe is a joint project. It requires the creativity of us all, and it requires flexibility,” stated Steinmeier.