Zoltán Balog, the prime minister’s commissioner for social affairs, said a new chapter could open in Hungary-Germany relations, with Germany and the Visegrad Group together representing the view that external borders must be protected and migration rejected. After attending a panel discussion in Stuttgart late on Thursday about the approaching 30th anniversary of Hungary opening its borders, Balog told MTI by phone that a thousand years of Hungarian-German friendship must not be allowed to deteriorate. At the event organised with the participation of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation which has close links with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany, Balog said Guido Wolf, the justice and European affairs minister of Baden-Württemberg, told around 400 participants that more attention must be paid to countries that joined the European Union after the end of the communist era.
Wolf said he fully agreed that these countries should not be handled as “second-class” and “eastern” Europeans, “getting lectured about democracy and freedom”. It must be accepted that these countries “want to follow their own way within the European Union” and “while they are ready for compromises and finding consent, they still expect to be handled as partners,” he said. Balog said “we trust that a new chapter could start”, with the values of central European countries being allowed to prevail and the approach of the “old” outgoing European Commission losing its dominance. Germany could play a “central role” in this process because it “understands” not only western Europeans but also eastern Europeans, through the former German Democratic Republic, Balog said. He added that on Wednesday he met another senior CDU politician Thomas Bareiss, a member of the Bundestag, and addressed an event about the future of European Christian democracy.