Thanks to the Hungarian people

Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sopron Thanks to the Hungarian people

Thirty years ago the Iron Curtain opened in Hungary. "World history was written," said Chancellor Angela Merkel looking back at the Pan-European Picnic on 19 August 1989. She was in Sopron to attend the anniversary celebrations of the opening of the Hungarian border.

Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the 30th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic

In Sopron, Chancellor Angela Merkel explained how much it meant to her to be where world history was written 30 years ago

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

The Chancellor’s trip to Hungary was an expression of her respect and admiration for what happened thirty years ago. A central element of the celebrations was an ecumenical church service in Sopron’s Protestant church. Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the service with her Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán. She spoke to the assembled congregation. 

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the opening of the border 30 years ago, declared the Chancellor. The Pan-European Picnic was a world-shattering event. The border that was opened in Sopron was a vitally important factor in bringing down the Berlin Wall and in reunifying Europe, said Angela Merkel. The Chancellor thanked the Hungarian people for their courage back then. Germany will always be grateful to Hungary, she pledged.

Challenges of today

The Chancellor also spoke of the challenges today, which Europe can only address together. Policies are needed that bring together all EU member states to enable them to address the major challenges of our time, she said, including economic development, defence cooperation, resolving trade conflicts and migration issues.

Good bilateral economic relations

Bilateral relations too were on the agenda of her talks in Hungary. Trade between the two nations is robust. German companies have invested high sums directly in Hungary. "The two economies are closely interconnected," said Angela Merkel. Bilateral trade is balanced and worth some 55 billion euros. Now the aim is to make research and innovation work more highly visible. She mentioned bilateral cooperation in the field of military equipment as another point discussed.

Against protectionism

Brexit is accepted as a reality, said the Chancellor. But the EU would like relations with the United Kingdom to be as good as possible in future. The Western Balkan states are also part of a united Europe. The aim is to achieve trading relations with the USA, China and other states that are as smooth as possible. Protectionist trends must not be allowed to gain the upper hand. Chancellor Angela Merkel closed with the thought that change can be positive and that we can be inspired to tackle the problems of the future with new energy.