Hungary: Merkel thanks Hungary on 30th. anniv of ‘Pan-European Picnic’

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined Hungarian President Viktor Orban at a press conference in Sopron on Monday, where she thanked her Hungarian hosts for the role they played in the fall of the Iron Curtain, while downplaying the disagreements between the two leaders.

Merkel, who was in Hungary for the first time in over four years, attended a ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the ‘Pan-European Picnic’ peace demonstration which was held on in Sopron, on the border with Austria, on 19 August 1989, which is widely seen as the first step towards the fall of the Iron Curtain.

“World history was written, it was an essential building block also for the fall of the Berlin wall, it was an essential building block for the unification of Europe and the fact that Hungary has now been a member of the European Union for 15 years is also related to this event,” said Merkel about the picnic.

Orban shared his view that Hungary was acting as a bulwark against illegal immigration to the benefit of Austria and Germany.

“”If there’s anybody who can stop that pressure from the South it’s Hungary. It is Germany’s only chance, it is Austria’s only chance not to be flooded by illegal immigrants that Hungary is defending the Southern borders and it’s defending them well,” Orban noted.

“Our bilateral relationships are good, that doesn’t mean we do not have different opinions on some matters. I believe we completely agree when the question is that people have to have conditions in their homelands that do not force them to flee,” said the German Chancellor adding that the two countries still have different views on how to proceed once the refugees are already in the country.

The Hungarian leader also expressed his belief that EU expansion needs to continue in the Western Balkans commenting that “this issue is vital for Hungary since the southern borders of the European Union coincide with Hungary’s southern borders.”

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