Leaders mark 20 years since Cold War relations began warming

A dozen European leaders are marking the 20th anniversary of the symbolic fall of the Iron Curtain. On June 27, 1989, the Hungarian and Austrian foreign ministers symbolically cut a wire representing the border between their two countries.


AFP - Western and eastern European leaders celebrated in Hungary on Saturday the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain that divided the continent during the Cold War.

The heads of state and government of a dozen European nations gathered in the Hungarian capital to mark the event that preceded the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

"In the name of all Germans I would like to thank Hungarians for their courage and their solidarity with Eastern Germans in 1989," German President Horst Koehler said at the memorial session in the parliament, speaking after Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom.

Austrian President Heinz Fischer used the commemoration to express support for demonstrators in Iran who have faced a government crackdown against their protests over the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The Iranian people also should have the right to have their voices heard and to have fair elections," Fischer said.

The Slovenian and the Swiss presidents, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Latvia and a delegation of the US Congress also joined the commemorations, which started with the hoisting of the national flag in the morning and will end with a concert at the opera house in the evening.

On June 27, 1989, Hungarian foreign minister Gyula Horn and his Austrian counterpart Alois Mock symbolically cut a wire representing the Iron Curtain on the border separating their two countries.

Two months later on August 19, about 600 East Germans escaped to the West during a picnic for peace organised at the Austro-Hungarian border, with the border gate opened for three hours.

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