Vienna, 6 November 2009 Press release

Spindelegger: "1989 – opportunity and mandate for a new Europe"

Foreign Ministry’s series of events 1989l2009 – The Dawn of a New Europe coming to a close

Vienna, 6 November 2009 - "The events of 1989 were the starting point for the dawn of a new Europe. Based on an understanding of common values and the concept of building trust between East and West, the CSCE made a fundamental contribution to this peaceful turn of an era," stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger at the formal ceremony 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain at Vienna’s Hofburg palace, hosted jointly by Austria, Germany and Greece, currently holding the OSCE chairmanship. Among further guests of honour were Germany’s Foreign Minister in 1989, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who contributed an essential share to the success of the CSCE process, and Dimitris P. Droutsas, Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece. The event marked the close of the multi-faceted series of events 1989l2009 – The Dawn of a New Europe.

"Vienna has traditionally been a meeting place between East and West – before, during and after the fall of the Iron Curtain. It was at a CSCE conference in Vienna in 1989 that the then Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze, said: 'In Vienna, the Iron Curtain became rusty' ", recalled Spindelegger. "Then, as today, it is indispensable to hold, at the European level, a comprehensive dialogue on all current security issues. As seat of the OSCE, but also as an official seat of the UN, Austria bears a special responsibility. I want to continue to strengthen Vienna’s role as a hub of peace and venue for dialogue," the Foreign Minister went on.

To mark the forthcoming anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger particularly emphasised the role of civil rights movements: "The events of 1989 were above all a great triumph for the citizens of the states belonging to the Eastern Bloc. It was a process that was based on many small steps and inspired by moral courage and the desire for freedom. In spite of threats to their lives these people advocated freedom courageously by opposing totalitarian regimes," stated Spindelegger. "In 1989, the ideas and strength of the citizens made for a peaceful turning point in Europe. Today, our admiration and respect are particularly directed to the civil rights activists of the time in Eastern Germany, whose courage created the basis for Germany’s reunification."

Spindelegger also reminded the audience that the path towards Europe has not yet been fully covered: "Particularly in this commemorative year we have to remember that the division of Europe has not yet been completely overcome. There are still peoples on this continent for whom freedom and security are not a matter of course. We must not forget this 'disadvantaged' Europe. Indeed, these very regions – ranging from the Balkans to the Black Sea – may become sources of strength for a future Europe. We must make pro-active use of their human, economic and cultural potential. 1989 therefore signifies an opportunity, but also a mandate for a new Europe."

Federal Ministry for
European and international Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213