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Angela Merkel

German Chancellor to Visit Hungary in August

D&T
July 31, 2019

Germany’s Angela Merkel will attend a commemorative event marking the 30th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic, infostart.hu said, citing Bertalan Havasi, deputy state secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the German Chancellor will both deliver speeches at the event to be organized in Sopron, western Hungary. In an effort to promote the notion of a united Europe, the Austrian and Hungarian governments agreed to open a crossing point for three hours on August 19, 1989. Tipped off to the event, hundreds of East German citizens who were in Hungary at that time rushed to the border in an attempt to escape to West Germany through Austria. In the absence of clear instructions, Hungarian border guards were at a loss as to how to handle the unexpected situation. In what later proved a historic decision, Hungarian officials allowed the East Germans to flee. A few months after the opening, more than 70,000 East Germans fled to West Germany via Hungary.  The Pan-European Picnic is considered a significant milestone on the road to German reunification, and commemorative ceremonies are held annually at the Austrian-Hungarian border. In 2009 Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, attended festivities commemorating the picnic's 20th anniversary, thanking the Hungarians for their courage and foresight.

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