Hungarian and Austrian foreign ministers Péter Szijjártó and Alexander Schallenberg, and the Governor of the Austrian state of Burgenland, praised the ideal of freedom on Thursday outside Sopron, where they commemorated the 30th anniversary of the symbolic opening of the Iron Curtain.

The commemoration was held at the location where 30 years ago, as part of the elimination of the closed border, Hungarian Foreign Minister Gyula Horn and his Austrian counterpart Alois Mock jointly cut through the barbed wire fence.

Prior to the ceremony, Péter Szijjártó and Alexander Schallenberg discussed the cooperation between the two countries.

In his commemorative speech, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted: “The Iron Curtain held the Hungarians captive like a prison, but it was only a matter of time before the forces that are primordial characteristics of the existence of the Hungarian peoples, and which cannot be taken away by force, came to the surface. One such characteristic is our desire for freedom”.

He added that the struggle of 1956 also showed that the Hungarians are a courageous nation that is not afraid to fight against overwhelming odds. “Despite forty years of suppression, they couldn’t turn the Hungarians into the subjects of the empire”, he said. “The Hungarian didn’t give in, because this is a thousand-year-old European and Christian nation, and will always remain so”, he continued.

“Thirty years ago, socialism collapsed like a house of cards, and the barrier that had hindered the free movement of ideas, thoughts and people for decades disappeared; it meant the birth of a new Europe”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

He highlighted that today in Central Europe we can see “vigorous, developing and proud” nations that are also capable of cooperation while taking into account national interests, and which contribute to a major extent to Europe’s economic performance and to preserving security.

“The Hungarian Government has an overwhelming level of support, which also obligates it to take part in the debates on the future of Europe while taking into account the enforcement of national interests, in the interests of a strong Christian Europe made up of free and proud nations, in which nations are proud of their identity and insist on their historic, religious and cultural heritage”, he stated.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg highlighted the fact that thirty years ago the Austrian and Hungarian foreign ministers had recognised their historic responsibility. “One of the messages of that year is that we must never forget how much we owe to European integration, because today we live at a level of stability and prosperity that our predecessors were unable to enjoy”, he said. “The other message is that the unification process in Europe is still far from over, because many believe they are ‘closer to the fire’. It is the European Union’s task to take a clear stand against this”, he stated.

Governor of the Austrian state of Burgenland Hans Peter Doskozil said Austria is proud of “living at the centre of Europe” and maintaining good neighbourly relations with the countries that surround it, and it is also proud of not only experiencing the development of the European Union, but also filling it with content. “If we want to know where we want to arrive at in future, we must also remember what social and economic differences developed prior to 1989”, the politician said.

Today, the symbolic cutting of the Iron Curtain thirty years ago is commemorated by a remembrance stone and a lime tree between Sopron and the Hungarian-Austrian border.