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Orbán, Merkel to mark 30th anniversary of Pan-European Picnic

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Hungary to commemorate the anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic, the peace demonstration held on the Austrian-Hungarian border near Sopron on August 19, 1989, that prefaced the change of political system.

Photo: 360b / Shutterstock.com

The picnic was a symbolic and peaceful demonstration that took place at Sopronkőhida, near the city of Sopron (214 km west of Budapest), the Hungarian government recalled Wednesday in a statement posted on its official news website, kormany.hu.

The event marked the first breach in the Iron Curtain, with the opening for three hours of border posts and the flight of about 600 citizens from the then German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The flow of East Germans towards West Germany led to the fall of the Berlin Wall a few months later and eventually to the reunification of Germany.

The two leaders are expected to attend an ecumenical ceremony in the Lutheran Church in downtown Sopron, where Merkel and Orbán will deliver speeches on the occasion of this historic anniversary, kormany.hu added.

Relations between Berlin and Budapest have soured since Orbán took over for his second spell in government in 2010, German news agency dpa noted.