Merkel due in Hungary to fete fall of Iron Curtain

15th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

By permitting tens of thousands of people who had long been trapped in the eastern bloc to flee, Hungarian leaders helped pave the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall three months later.

Berlin -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Hungary next week to thank the country for opening its border 20 years ago and allowing an exodus of East Germans to the West, a spokesman said Friday.

By permitting tens of thousands of people who had long been trapped in the eastern bloc to flee, Hungarian leaders helped pave the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall three months later.

The German government spokesman told a regular news conference that Merkel would go Wednesday to Sopron near the Austrian border "to convey her appreciation for the special role played by Hungary in the unification and freedom of Germany".

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, will be welcomed by Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom and Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai.

German President Horst Koehler travelled to Hungary in June with several other European heads of state to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain.

On June 27, 1989, the foreign ministers of Austria and Hungary, Alois Mock and Gyula Horn, snipped the barbed wire that separated the free world from the communist bloc.

On September 10, 1989, Horn declared that Hungary would open its borders with Austria to citizens of the former East Germany who had been massing in the country in the hope of gaining their freedom.

More than 70,000 East Germans fled through the Hungarian and Austrian border to get to West Germany during those historic months.

 

AFP/Expatica

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