Budapest – On November 12, 2008, George E. Pataki, former Governor of New York, received the Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of Merit of Republic of Hungary, from President László Sólyom. The ceremony was attended by Viktor Orbán, President of FIDESZ – Hungarian Civic Union; Kinga Göncz, Minister of Foreign Affairs; US Ambassador April Foley; and family members and friends.
Governor George Pataki and President László Sólyom
In his laudation, President Sólyom emphasized the important role of Gov. Pataki in the life of Hungarian American communities. Said the President: “With your proudly proclaimed Hungarian consciousness, you contribute to the preservation of the identity of Hungarians in America.” President Sólyom also mentioned Gov. Pataki’s effective role in speaking up for those Hungarians who live outside of Hungary and in stressing the importance of fundamental human rights. The full text of the President Sólyom’s laudation in English and Hungarian is available at http://www.keh.hu/keh_en/20081112awarded_pataki.html
Gov. Pataki thanked President Sólyom by recalling his family’s ancestry and how proud they would be, knowing that just a few generations after immigrating to the United States, their grandson would receive such high recognition from Hungary. “Hungary is a vibrant and free democracy, I am proud to receive this honor and will continue to speak up on behalf of the rights of Hungarians wherever they live,” said Governor Pataki.
In a November 10 interview with Duna TV, Gov. Pataki spoke out forcefully on the importance of protecting the human rights of ethnic minorities, and decried specific recent instances of government-sponsored discrimination against Hungarians in Slovakia. The interview can be seen at http://www.dunatv.hu//video/videoplayer?video=1_473748
During his visit to Budapest, Gov. Pataki also attended the Annual Board Meeting of the International Centre for Democratic Transition (ICDT). The Hungarian American Coalition was represented by Coalition President Maximilian Teleki. The meeting was followed by a conference on the influence of globalization on the economy, security, and democratic transitions. For more information: http://www.icdt.hu/def_np.php?i=179&q=1