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Angela Merkel to visit Hungary in August

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2019.07.31. 11:45

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic together in Hungary on 19 August, state newswire MTI reports.

The two leaders will attend an ecumenical service in the Sopron Evangelical Church where they will hold speeches in connection with the anniversary.

The Pan-European Picnic was a demonstration against a divided Europe held on 19 August 1989 near Sopron, close to the Austrian-Hungarian border. News of the event quickly reached the citizens of the DDR who were in Hungary at the time, and more than 600 East Germans used the opportunity provided by the temporarily open border to flee to the West. The event was an important milestone leading up to the dismantling of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany.

As Hungarian political daily Népszava reports citing German sources, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas had cancelled his visit to Hungary that was supposed to have taken place on Tuesday. The German politician was planning to attend the opening ceremony of the European Maccabi Games in Budapest and meet his Hungarian colleague Péter Szijjártó, but as Szijjártó "did not have the time" to meet the FM of one of Hungary's most important foreign partners, Maas decided to send Stephan Mayer, his ministry's state secretary instead. 

Update at 12:15:  A statement issued Wednesday by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies the claims of Népszava. According to the Ministry, they were engaged in continuous talks with the German FM to agree on a time when the two ministers could meet, but Heiko Maas had to cancel due to his schedule being overbooked with German domestic political events. 

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