Central Europe—The Austrian, Slovakian and Hungarian chapters of UPF and affiliated organizations held a Peace Road event at the point where their nations’ borders meet.
More than 150 representatives of UPF, Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), and International Association of Youth and Students for Peace (IAYSP) participated in the event on June 3, 2023.
The program opened with the participants singing the European Anthem, based on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” with each singing in his or her own language. As the program moderator, Elisabeth Cook, the president of FFWPU-Austria, welcomed the participants.
UPF-Austria President Peter Haider reminded the listeners that in 1989 the Iron Curtain still divided Europe. We should be grateful for those who gave their lives for freedom, he said. “Peace has to be cultivated and not taken for granted!”
Gerhard Zapfl, the mayor of Nickelsdorf, an Austrian village located at the border with Hungary, said that in 2015 he was responsible for managing 300,000 refugees crossing the border and for maintaining the social peace in his small community. His experience showed him that integration is possible with good management and the goodwill of the people.
Gabriela Ferenčáková, the mayor of Čunovo, a Slovakian village near the border with Hungary, highlighted the importance of cooperation, common values and common solutions to problems.
UPF-Slovakia President Miloš Klas and his wife, journalist and historian Barbara Grabner, were also present. Mrs. Grabner gave a talk on the European Greenbelt initiative, which aims to implement a zone from Norway to Bulgaria, mainly along the former Iron Curtain, based on nature protection and sustainable development.
Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) was represented by Renate Amesbauer (Austria), Lubica Magnusson (Slovakia), and Katsuyo Bendsza (Hungary).
Youth and Students for Peace (YSP) was represented by Marlies Ladstätter (Austria) and Monika Nanys (Hungary).
The official program ended with a speech by Péter Mészáros, representing UPF-Hungary. He recalled the severe border controls at the Slovakian and Austrian borders that he witnessed during his childhood, each time his family intended to travel abroad. His desire to cross the borders freely has been fulfilled, at least for this part of Europe. We should never take peace for granted, but work for it, he said.
The event concluded with a picnic at the Aranykárász campground in Rajka, Hungary, about 8 km from the tri-border point. Some of the participants set out on a boat or kayak on a tributary of the Danube River, a well-known nature reserve called the Szigetköz.
The Peace Road is a global goodwill project of the Universal Peace Federation. The project dates back to 1981, when UPF founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, speaking at the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, proposed an international highway that would connect all the people of the world.
The Peace Road initiative promotes two projects in particular: an undersea tunnel between Korea and Japan, and the Bering Strait Project to connect Alaska and Siberia. The founders’ vision and desire was the peaceful reunification of Korea, which is surrounded by the competing superpowers of the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Only when the world is connected peacefully can Korea be reunited, the founders said.