Coalition Participates in Capitol Hill Conference

“[Y]our letters and conversations with your representatives have turned the debate about regional assistance and NATO expansion around,” said Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a conference held in the Hart Senate Office Building on April 30, 1997. The all-day conference titled, “Security and Stability in Central and Eastern Europe: A Vital U.S. Interest,” was sponsored by the Washington based Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), which comprises 19 national grassroots organizations, including the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition), representing over 22 million Americans who trace their heritage to Europe.

The conference highlighted the need for continued U.S. efforts to promote stability, democracy and the rule of law in the region. In addition to Senator McConnell, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee, other conference participants included Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

Two panels of distinguished experts included Daniel Fried, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, National Security Council; Jeremy D. Rosner, Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for NATO Enlargement Ratification; Steve Biegun, Senior Professional Staff, Member for European Affairs, Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Peter W. Rodman, Director of National Security, Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom; Paul A. Goble, Deputy Director of Broadcasting, Radio Free Europe; Thomas Carothers, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Robin Cleveland, Clerk, Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The panels discussed NATO expansion and security concerns as well as U.S. foreign assistance programs in Central and Eastern Europe.

“The rapid reintegration of Central and Eastern Europe with the West would provide the region with a sense of security, shore up the new democracies and advance U.S. interests,” said Coalition Board member Frank Koszorús, Jr., who served as moderator of the NATO panel. “Although NATO must include countries which are committed to democracy, market economics and human and minority rights, Europe’s overall stability mandate that the security concerns of those countries which are not initially admitted to NATO be addressed,” he added. “While Russia should not be isolated, it should not be permitted to veto NATO enlargement. Neither should the effectiveness of the alliance be emasculated by giving Russia a voice in NATO’s internal decision making,” he concluded.

Among the more than 150 attendees were U.S. government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, the media, and CEEC representatives, including Coalition President Edith K. Lauer, board member Anne C. Bader and Administrative Assistant Kláry Hefty.

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