Budapest, June 2 (MTI) – Politicians from Hungary and abroad gathered at the Pesti Vigado in Budapest on Tuesday for a conference to celebrate former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s 85th birthday.
Addressing the event, former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said Kohl (in office from 1982 to 1998) was a “great man” who during his political career was able to take hits to achieve great goals.
Former Hungarian foreign minister Janos Martonyi said that Kohl had been a “decisive personality” at a time of the political regime change of 1989, which he referred to as “an era of miracles”. Kohl not only used a historic opportunity but also selected a way for Germany, a country “too big for Europe’s equilibrium, but, luckily, too small to have predominance over the continent”, Martonyi insisted.
Kohl also realised that Germany’s unification was crucial for European integration, that a unified Germany could act as a catalyst for the integration process, he said.
Human resources minister Zoltan Balog said that Hungary needs friends like Kohl, politicians who are “friends of Hungary and Europe at the same time”. Kohl is a politician who “built confidence first and then acted,” he said and argued that Kohl had successfully dismantled reservations against the unified Germany in Russia, the UK, France and Italy. “Hungary also had better build confidence first and act only afterwards,” Balog went on to say.
Germany’s unification was a milestone for Hungary, because it meant the end of communism, Balog said, adding that “Germany’s being in two parts was a guarantee for the survival of communism.” The Berlin Wall was a partition not only between the two Germanys but a border between the free world and imprisonment, he said.
Balog also warned that the heritage of communism should be combatted just as that of Nazism.
Former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel referred to Kohl as a politician who “took all seriously that had a meaning, one that also asked questions and asked for advice and analysis, one that came on Germany’s stage without prejudice”.
On another subject, Schuessel referred to the former West Germany’s spending 1,000 billion euros on integrating the former GDR, and that the European Union is similarly helping central and eastern European countries with 400 billion euros, and said that solidarity is crucial. He added that solidarity should be applied for refugees, but added that refugees and immigrants are not the same group.
“We cannot open up our gates to just anyone,” Schuessel said, and mentioned Switzerland’s refugee protocols as an example. In that country, applications for asylum are processed within 28 hours with appropriate action to follow immediately, he said.