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30 Apr, 2019 15:52

‘Unforeseen’? German Interior Ministry seeks extra money for 30th Unity Day festival it overlooked

‘Unforeseen’? German Interior Ministry seeks extra money for 30th Unity Day festival it overlooked

Germany is going to celebrate three decades since its reunification next year. One tiny problem: the Interior Ministry has seemingly overlooked this fact and is now desperate for additional funding to make things right.

German Unity Day is a major national holiday the country celebrates every October as it marks the anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany after the Cold War, which was formally completed back in 1990. In 2020, the nation will mark 30 years since the memorable date.

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Although, this milestone anniversary is quite hard to miss, at least if you are a German, it apparently escaped the attention of the entire Interior Ministry, which is actually responsible for organizing the commemorative festivities, up until now.

That is what the ministry said as its officials turned up at the office of the Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and asked for some €61 million ($68.45 million) in two years in addition to its budget that accounted for almost €16 billion ($17.95 billion) in 2019 alone.

“The need was unforeseen,” the ministry led by Horst Seehofer, a member of the Bavarian Christian Social Union allied to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said, adding that the additional financial requirements are “unquestionable” and the expenses “unavoidable.”

The ministry then admitted that the “understanding of a need to [celebrate] the 30th anniversary of the German Unity … in a very special way in terms of scope and content became apparent only after the end of the debates on the 2019 federal budget,” which were held in late 2018.

The German Finance Ministry usually reserves some extra funds for some really unpredictable emergency situations like natural disasters or major crises. And one has to admit that German Unity Day celebrations do not really fit into this category. Still, the Interior Ministry managed to present the whole situation as a sort of national emergency.

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A failure to celebrate the landmark date in a very special way could “exacerbate existing public frustration and tendencies towards social division” as well as outright “harm political and social interests of the state,” the ministry warned, according to the German Süddeutsche Zeitung, which was the first to report on the issue, citing a paper the Finance Ministry’s parliamentary secretary, Bettina Hagedorn, presented to the Budget Committee.

The Interior Ministry also vowed to take “comprehensive measures aimed at planning and holding the anniversary year [celebrations],” adding that they should involve not only festivals but also a “serious” and “honest” dialog about social cohesion and ways to improve living conditions. The ministry’s parliamentary secretary, Marco Wanderwitz also denied his superiors forgot about the milestone anniversary altogether, explaining that initial plans simply involved less ambitious celebrations.

Stolz apparently never planned to be a spoilsport anyway and the additional funds Seehofer’s ministry requested were promptly allocated. The Interior Ministry then established a special Jubilee Commission tasked with developing concrete plans on how to spend this hefty sum of money, which it is expected to be presented by August.

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