Austrian minister who helped tear down Iron Curtain dies

Austrian minister who helped tear down Iron Curtain dies
In this June 27, 1989 picture, then Hungarian Foreign Minister Gyula Horn, right, along with his Austrian counterpart Alois Mock, left, cut through the barbed wire of the former Iron Curtain marking the border between East and West in Sopron, Hungary. Picture: AP Photo/Bernhard J. Holzner

Former Austrian foreign minister Alois Mock has died aged 82, nearly 30 years after he and his Hungarian counterpart made headlines by cutting through fencing that represented the communist Iron Curtain separating the two countries.

Austrian leaders paid tribute to Mr Mock as an architect of Austria's European Union membership.

He is most remembered for the fence-cutting ceremony on June 27 1989, with then-Hungarian foreign minister Gyula Horn.

The moment was captured in iconic photos that made front pages worldwide.

The symbolic opening between East and West was followed three months later with the first major event foreshadowing the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe.

Hungary opened its border with Austria to East Germans transiting Hungary after turning their backs on their homeland.

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