The Pan-European Picnic took place thirty years ago

2019. 08. 18.

Press Release by MEP Lívia Jároka

Lívia Járóka, Vice-President of the European Parliament, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic, recalled the events of 1989. “I was a 15-year-old high school student at that time. In the place of DEMISZ (the Hungarian Democratic Youth League), which was the former Young Communist League, József Szájer and I reinforced the local branch of Fidesz in Sopron. From then on, we were ecstatic about our national holidays and hope filled our days. Freedom also brought long-awaited unity within the European Union, which we now know to be very fragile.”

Thirty years ago, on August 19th, 1989, just prior to a celebration of European unity that took place on the Austro-Hungarian border near Sopron, Hungary, citizens of East Germany appeared and passed through the border in several waves, crossing to Austria unimpeded by Hungarian border guards. This is how this celebration of unity, the day of the Pan-European Picnic, became the first truly spectacular event in the process of German reunification.

“These days are for us Hungarians a double holiday. On the one hand, we celebrate that we have been an integral part of Christian Europe for more than a thousand years, and that today we are a strong and prosperous nation. On the other hand, these days must remind us of what happened in 1989,” the MEP said.

“We need a strong European Union, but this cooperation can only be an alliance based on the mutual respect of vital and sovereign nation states. I believe that there are several ways to achieve that common goal, in the same way that the regime change of 1989-90 took several paths but still succeeded in democratizing the Eastern Bloc,” said Járóka. Each nation has its own path, and Europe must therefore be united by its common goals and commitments. Europe belongs to us as much as it does to Germany, and belongs to the French as much as it belongs to the Italians, Latvians, and Spanish. In harmony with that spirit, we can truly realize the goal that Europe’s political leaders set out following the end of the Second World War and again after the fall of communism: that we unite in diversity. It is our duty to build on the heritage of ’89 and continue the path that led us to the opening of the border thirty years ago and the accession of Hungary to the EU fifteen years ago. Our task is to build and maintain a Europe that is close to the people, a Europe in which all citizens enjoy equal rights and conditions. That is why it is important to talk openly and honestly about eradicating poverty in Europe, addressing migratory pressures from Africa and the Middle East, and the reality and importance of the dangers posed by environmental challenges. These challenges must be the tasks of the five years ahead. I hope that the Commission, chaired by Mrs Von der Leyen, and the European Parliament can work together successfully with the European Council to develop solutions for a strong and successful Europe.