More than just a picnic

(Reuters) - Gyula Horn, who as Hungary's last communist foreign minister ripped a hole in the Iron Curtain in 1989, has died at the age of 80 after long illness, the government said on Wednesday.

With the passing of Gyula Horn, we once again have the opportunity to look back on 20th century European history and recall lessons that are slowly being forgotten. That is one of the purposes of Ride for your Rights! - to better understand our neighbours across all borders, we must understand each other's background.

The European Union is the latest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. At the same time the European idea of peace and democracy seems to be challenged increasingly and its credibility loses its strength. The financial crisis has caused stress on the European system and its citizens. Consequently, this has lead to quick accusations and generalisations in political dialogue and left its marks on the general public. Mutual distrust, a distorted picture of reality and openly displayed hatred towards other nationalities can be witnessed in times of social and financial instability. - in "Citizens of 2020" Tour

So, let's look at the Iron Curtain. The name was made popular by Winston Churchill, and it simbolized the division of Europe after World War II, between western countries part of NATO, eastern countries part of the Warsaw Pact. As with any oversimplistic view, one must not forget about the neutral countries like Austria, which was at the time split in Allied- and Soviet- controlled areas, and the particular case of Yugoslavia, which ended up kicking off the Non-Aligned Movement. This sort of political division marked the last century and allowed for the demonization of different groups by their own "siblings", hindering peaceful development and prosperity for decades.

When we ride a bike across a border in the Schengen space, we hardly notice the sign welcoming us into a neighbouring country. But the fact remains that many of our friends have it a bit more difficult at border crossings: passports, visas and "friendly" customs officials make up for an annoying experience in most places. And this is nothing compared to the sort of heat you'd get a few decades ago! It seems only fitting that we'd use the bike example to remind everyone about it.

Meet Michael Cramer, Member of the European Parliament. With his initiative, a new EuroVelo route was established, appropriately named "Iron Curtain Trail", which stretches from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea, following the infamous dividing line between European brothers and sisters. A real eye-opener for those who'd like to enjoy traveling without restraints across this beautiful continent and might just learn to treasure that fragile freedom when they think back on the recent past and the resurgency of narrow-minded nationalism in so many European countries showing up every day on the news. The Ride for your Rights! crew had the chance to meet Mr Cramer back in 2012 during an exhibition at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and that brief contact sparked the idea of cycling down the ICT in 2013.

MEP Cramer signing the Bike of Honour

MEP Michael Cramer (Greens/EFA) signed the Bike of Honour ahead of the 2012 edition of Ride for your Rights!

So, where does Gyula Horn fit into all this? The answer lies on the tip of a bolt cutter.

REUTERS/Ferenc Redei Minister Gyula Horn, right, and his Austrian counterpart, Alois Mock, cut the 'Iron Curtain' on the Hungarian-Austrian border in1989.

The picnic that changed Europe

SOPRONKOHIDA, Hungary — Race north on the newly paved country lane from this Hungarian village, past cornfields and patches of woods, and you might miss the Austrian border altogether.The old border between East and West is now just a seam in the asphalt next to a bike path crossing. There are no signs marking the spot, just a modest statue of a half-open door commemorating the historic events of Aug. 19, 1989, which helped bring down the Berlin Wall three months later.

Almost 24 years ago, Foreign Minister Gyula Horn, along with his counterpart, Alois Mock, took a hugely important step in bringing down the Iron Curtain. This took place near the town of Sopron, and it was a decisive gesture that led to a large number of East Germans crossing the border into the West, during what became known as the Pan-European Picnic.

The "Citizens of 2020" Tour will follow the Iron Curtain Trail and will pass through Sopron, where we'll have a mandatory stop at the site of the Pan-European Picnic. It will be a good chance for all the riders and for all of those reading about the tour to learn about these events and many others, events that shaped our continent and continue to influence our lives today.

Check out the overview of Stage 1 of the "Citizens of 2020" Tour. Come join us! Spread the word! 

The European Union is the latest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. At the same time the European idea of peace and democracy seems to be challenged increasingly and its credibility loses its strength. The financial crisis has caused stress on the European system and its citizens. Consequently, this has lead to quick accusations and generalisations in political dialogue and left its marks on the general public. Mutual distrust, a distorted picture of reality and openly displayed hatred towards other nationalities can be witnessed in times of social and financial instability. - See more at: http://www.rideforyourrights.org/2013/citizens-2020-tour#sthash.WxHuytu9...
The European Union is the latest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. At the same time the European idea of peace and democracy seems to be challenged increasingly and its credibility loses its strength. The financial crisis has caused stress on the European system and its citizens. Consequently, this has lead to quick accusations and generalisations in political dialogue and left its marks on the general public. Mutual distrust, a distorted picture of reality and openly displayed hatred towards other nationalities can be witnessed in times of social and financial instability. - See more at: http://www.rideforyourrights.org/2013/citizens-2020-tour#sthash.WxHuytu9...
The European Union is the latest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. At the same time the European idea of peace and democracy seems to be challenged increasingly and its credibility loses its strength. The financial crisis has caused stress on the European system and its citizens. Consequently, this has lead to quick accusations and generalisations in political dialogue and left its marks on the general public. Mutual distrust, a distorted picture of reality and openly displayed hatred towards other nationalities can be witnessed in times of social and financial instability. - See more at: http://www.rideforyourrights.org/2013/citizens-2020-tour#sthash.WxHuytu9...
The European Union is the latest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. At the same time the European idea of peace and democracy seems to be challenged increasingly and its credibility loses its strength. The financial crisis has caused stress on the European system and its citizens. Consequently, this has lead to quick accusations and generalisations in political dialogue and left its marks on the general public. Mutual distrust, a distorted picture of reality and openly displayed hatred towards other nationalities can be witnessed in times of social and financial instability. - See more at: http://www.rideforyourrights.org/2013/citizens-2020-tour#sthash.WxHuytu9...
The European Union is the latest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. At the same time the European idea of peace and democracy seems to be challenged increasingly and its credibility loses its strength. The financial crisis has caused stress on the European system and its citizens. Consequently, this has lead to quick accusations and generalisations in political dialogue and left its marks on the general public. Mutual distrust, a distorted picture of reality and openly displayed hatred towards other nationalities can be witnessed in times of social and financial instability. - See more at: http://www.rideforyourrights.org/2013/citizens-2020-tour#sthash.WxHuytu9...

Free counters!

Active forum topics

Powered by Drupal