German ministry may have forgotten funds for reunification celebration | News | DW | 30.04.2019
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German ministry may have forgotten funds for reunification celebration

Germany's Interior Ministry was reportedly obliged to ask for millions in extra funding after forgetting it was due to stage a massive celebration in 2020. The event will mark 30 years of German reunification.

A celebration marking a key national holiday in Germany has been given emergency funding following an apparent blunder by the country's Interior Ministry, according to the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Germany's Federal Interior Ministry is tasked with staging a nation-wide celebration in October 2020 to commemorate 30 years of German unity, yet a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung claims the Interior Ministry overlooked the date, forcing officials to request €61 million ($68.4 million) for "unplanned expenses" from the country's Finance Ministry.

The modern German state was created in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin wall the year before. 

In its request, the Interior Ministry said the need for the funds was to meet "unforeseen needs." Officials subsequently applied for funding after the budget for the current year was set, requesting €30 million for this year and another €31 million for 2020.

The ministry, led by Bavarian conservative Horst Seehofer — a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) — did not reply to a DW request for comment.

Read more: Chancellor Angela Merkel premieres pitch to frustrated voters in Germany's east

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Judith Enders: "Distinguishing between Eastern and Western Germans is outdated.”

Celebrating unity in the public interest

The country's Finance Ministry is only allowed to approve extra-budgetary resources in the case of truly unforeseeable events such as natural disasters or major emergencies.

However, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) — coalition partner to Merkel's CDU/CSU — apparently granted the request.

In its financing plea, the Interior Ministry emphasized the need to organize the 2020 event in a format completely different than previously planned in order to "avoid further fueling existing frustrations and tendencies towards social division."

"The necessity of extra funding is factually undeniable," Interior Ministry Finance Secretary Bettina Hagedorn said in a document cited by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The lack of a proper celebration could risk "adverse affects on sociopolitical state interests," she added.

Read more: Eastern Germany still lags, three decades after reunification: study

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Berlin remembers German reunification with a celebration

Bridging the east-west divide

The Interior Ministry announced that the celebration will be designed to unite citizens in eastern and western Germany. Seehofer has promised a "serious and honest dialog" on social cohesion and living conditions 30 years on, as well as suggesting the construction of a new center — located in eastern Germany — devoted to the spirit of the 1989 East German peace movement and the furtherance of east-west unity.

A party-planning committee is due to present concrete project proposals by mid-August.

The modern German state was created in 1990, when capitalist West Germany and formerly Soviet-dominated East Germany officially united after decades of division.

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