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Strengthening European solidarity – Foreign Minister Maas visits Hungary Hungary

GDR refugees passing the border of Hungary and Austria to attend the Pan-European Picnic on 19. August 1989

GDR refugees passing the border of Hungary and Austria to attend the Pan-European Picnic on 19. August 1989, © IMAGNO

04.11.2019 - Article

Foreign Minister Maas visits Budapest, commemorating the fall of the Wall and the lifting of the Iron Curtain 30 years ago and calling for European cooperation in the spirit of the events of 1989.

Hungarian solidarity in 1989

The overarching theme of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ visit is recalling the fall of the Wall and the lifting of the Iron Curtain 30 years ago – for it was Hungary which in 1989 officially permitted all GDR citizens to travel to “a country of their choice”. The actions of the Hungarian Government in the summer and autumn of 1989 and the solidarity of the Hungarian population were a key part of developments that led to the fall of the Wall 30 years ago.

During a visit to the headquarters of the Malteser Hilfsdienst and to Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, Minister Maas met with people who experienced those events. GDR refugees camped in the church garden in August 1989 when the German embassy premises had to be closed due to overcrowding. By September 1989, more than 55,000 GDR citizens had been attended to by the Malteser Hilfsdienst and numerous volunteers, who provided them with shelter, counselling and a temporary home. It was a great gesture of solidarity for which Minister Maas wants to thank the Malteser organisation and Hungary.

Bringing the spirit of 1989 to present-day Europe

This visit is one of many trips, events and discussions that Minister Maas has conducted in recent weeks to highlight the special role of Germany’s Eastern European neighbours and the great courage their people showed in the summer and autumn of 1989. In addition to Hungary, these commemorative activities are concentrated in the Czech Republic and Poland. Minister Maas wishes to capture and bring to the present day the spirit of European solidarity of 1989, in a desire to shape and further develop relations with Germany’s partners Hungary and other member states in the eastern part of the European Union.

Strengthening European cooperation

Expansion of bilateral relations and European cooperation are the main focus of Minister Maas’ meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó. Germany and Hungary enjoy good and close economic, cultural and security ties. The Foreign Ministers will also discuss both countries’ positions in the spheres of European foreign and security policy and migration policy. Maas will take the opportunity to seek support for Germany’s 2020 European Council Presidency agenda and for a strong, unified and stringent EU foreign and security policy.

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