The relationship between Germany and Hungary is difficult. Now Merkel has visited the country for a ceremony to commemorate the flight of GDR citizens. But she also appealed indirectly to Orban.
Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked the Hungarians for their support in the opening of the borders in 1989 and in the subsequent German Unification. The “Pan-European Picnic” made possible by the Hungarian side became a symbol of the great freedom movement at that time, Merkel said on Monday in Sopron, Hungary, at a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of the historic day.
“The picnic became the biggest mass escape from the GDR since the wall was built in 1961. The picnic turned into a world event,” said Merkel. On August 19, 1989, more than 600 GDR citizens managed to escape via the border that had been temporarily opened for the picnic. The event was the harbinger of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November.
Merkel addressed warnings to Hungary
“Sopron is an example of how much we Europeans can achieve if we stand up courageously for our indivisible values,” Merkel said in the Evangelical Church of Sopron. In the presence of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, she reminded the EU states’ ability to compromise, especially in contentious issues. “We should always be aware that national well-being always depends on the European common good.” Hungary is one of the EU countries that are relentlessly defending their national interests on the migration issue.
After the ceremony, Merkel and Orban met for lunch at City Hall of the city for a short conversation. Later a joint press conference was planned. This tight program is considered a sign of how much the German-Hungarian relationship is currently cooling. While Orban has been strictly opposed to immigration for years, Germany criticizes the illiberal tendencies in Hungary.