Europe 20 years after the Iron Curtain

The Presidium of the CPCE celebrates the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Iron Curtain in a declaration. Europe without frontiers offers freedom and opportunities, but at the same time a new re-nationalization burdens the togetherness.

In 1989 Europe changed. Today, on the 20th anniversary of the opening of the frontier between Austria and Hungary in Sopron on 27 June 1989, the Presidium of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) has published a declaration. “The remembrance of 1989 is an obligation to keep preserving freedom anew time and again, and to take responsibility for it,” the document states.

The churches had an important role during the 1989 upheavals. Opposition forces could gather under church roofs. Prayers for peace and church worship became the forums of a resistance which toppled the Communist systems.

A stocktaking of the past 20 years in Central and Eastern European countries brings out gratitude and joy at liberation from systematic oppression. On the other side anxiety is growing about the great economic and social differences in Europe and a persistent mental division into “East” and "West”. Europe without frontiers offers great freedom and opportunities, but it is also experienced as a loss of familiar areas of life, as a crisis of values. A new re-nationalization is putting ethnic and religious minorities under pressure and burdening the coexistence of people in Europe.

The experiences of resistance are an encouragement to stand up for freedom and justice. The churches with their ethical and social competence are entering controversies in society. In the CPCE they will continue to play their part in strengthening fellowship over and above all frontiers.

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