St. Margarethen/Fertörakos, 26. June 2009 Press release

Spindelegger: "Bringing the enthusiasm and hope of 1989 into the Europe of the future"

Foreign Minister at a commemorative event on the fall of the Iron Curtain at the Hungarian-Austrian border

St. Margarethen/Fertörakos, 26 June 2009 - "20 years ago at this border, a new era of freedom began for Austria, for Hungary, and the whole of Europe. By cutting through the Iron Curtain together at the Hungarian-Austrian border, the former Foreign Ministers Alois Mock and Gyula Horn provided an unforgettable impulse for the start into a new Europe", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in his speech at the commemorative event on the fall of the Iron Curtain in St. Margarethen and Fertörakos. The celebrations were also attended by Federal President Heinz Fischer and the Hungarian President László Sólyom, and Burgenland’s Provincial Governor Hans Niessl. Witnesses of that period spoke about how they experienced the fall of the Iron Curtain 20 years ago.

"The peaceful change of the year 1989 was the great triumph of the citizens in the former Eastern Bloc states. They had paved the way for it over decades with their immeasurable force of will. Despite all the risks and drawbacks, despite threats to life and limb, these people bravely fought for their freedom and against totalitarian regimes", said Spindelegger. "Today, watchtowers and barbed wire are a thing of the past. The European peace project has been a success. This is a supporting, unifying, and identity-establishing project between the peoples of Europe, and will thus endure into the future".

This ceremonial act at the Hungarian-Austrian border is closely linked to the initiative "1989:2009 - Start into a new Europe" by the Foreign Ministry: "The special target audience for this initiative is the youth. It is important that they recognize the immeasurable potential of today’s Central Europe with the knowledge of our continent’s tragic past, and that they use this knowledge with commitment. It is up to all of us to carry together the enthusiasm and the hope of the year 1989 into the Europe of the future", said Spindelegger.

The Foreign Minister also emphasized the role of Burgenland in the opening of the East: "As a border region, Burgenland has always been an important place of encounter. In 1956, some 180,000 Hungarians fled into freedom through Burgenland on foot or on bicycles, taking their belongings with them. The bridge of Andau became the symbol of their desire for freedom. The people in Burgenland welcomed and provided first care to the Hungarian refugees. This special close relationship between Burgenland and our neighbour is still felt strongly today", said Spindelegger.

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