Eastern and Western European Minority Leaders Visit Capital

Leading representatives of Hungarian national minorities in Central and Eastern Europe were among the guests at the Hungarian American Coalition’s first-ever fundraising Gala Dinner, held Thursday, November 2, at the Embassy of Austria in Washington, D.C.

Bishop László Tökés, Honorary President of the Hungarian Democratic Alliance of Rumania; Dr. Edith Bauer of Slovakia’s Coexistence Party; Mr. Miklós Kovács of the Cultural Association of Hungarians in Subcarpathia (Ukraine); and Dr. László Józsa of the Hungarian Association of Voivodina (Serbia) attended the Gala Dinner. In his keynote address, Bishop Tökésemphasized the continuing importance of effective communication networks to the cause of human rights.

Edith Lauer, President of the Hungarian American Coalition, then introduced the awards presentations. The Gala Dinner honored three individuals who have made major contributions in the field of communications in Hungary: Andres Bande, President of Ameritech, Ms. Kati Marton, President, The Committee to Protect Journalists, and J. Joseph Grandmaison, Director, U.S. Trade Development Agency. Proceeds from the Gala Dinner and the accompanying Silent Auction will be used to establish a communications network linking Hungarian institutions throughout Central and Eastern Europe with Western institutions.

Other notable guests at Thursday’s dinner were the Hon. György Bánlaki, Hungary’s Ambassador to the United States; the Hon. Helmut Tuerk, Ambassador of Austria; and Dr. Zoltán Gál, Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament. The dinner’s honorary Chairmen were Senator Christopher DoddGeorge E. Pataki, Governor of New York; George V. Voinovich, Governor of Ohio; and Congressman Tom Lantos.
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On Friday, November 3, approximately 150 people representing Washington’s policymakers, universities and Hungarian-American community attended the Hungarian American Coalition’s all-day conference entitled “Promoting European Security and Integration: The Role of National Minorities.” The Conference, co-sponsored by the Potomac Foundation and held in a Congressional hearing room of the Rayburn House Office Building, began with a keynote address by Paul Goble, Senior Fellow at the Potomac Foundation. Mr. Goble stressed that a fundamental re-thinking of the relationship between nation and state, and a willingness to devolve sovereignty — as distinct from independence — to sub-state groups, are necessary components of building a lasting and peaceful international order.

The conference proceeded with statements by three representatives of West European national minorities: Dr. Christoph Pan, President of the Federal Union of European Nationalities: Mr. Joan Vallvé, Member of the European Parliament and formerly Head of the Catalan Autonomous Chancellery; and Prof. Chasper Pult, President of Lia Romantscha, the organization of Switzerland’s Raeto-Romansh minority. The four Hungarian minority leaders then sketched the minority situation in their respective countries.

Following the presentations by minority leaders, Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff expressed the U.S. position that respect for human rights and the rights of national minorities will be an important criterion in deciding which countries to accept for NATO membership.

After a lunch break, the afternoon Security Panel featured U.S. scholars and diplomats who addressed general issues of U.S. security policy in Europe: Dr. Daniel McDonald (Potomac Foundation): Dr. Constantine Menges (George Washington University); Ambassador Charles Thomas, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and a U.S. negotiator in the Balkans; andFrank Koszorus, Jr., of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. As in the morning session, the security panel’s presentations were followed by question-and-answer periods.

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The Hungarian American Coalition held its Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 4, at the Kossuth House, Washington, D.C., from 9:30-11:00 a.m. The Coalition’s Board of Directors met in the afternoon. Among other decisions taken at the Annual Meeting,George Pogan and Anne Bader were elected to individual memberships on the Board of Directors, while the Board electedSzabolcs Szekeres as the Coalition’s Budapest representative.

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