Hungarian American Leaders Attend Ninth Diaspora Council Meeting in Budapest

Coalition President Andrea Lauer Rice Elected US President of Diaspora Council


Washington, DC – On November 14, 2019, the 9th annual Diaspora Council meeting was held at the Hungarian Castle Gardens in Budapest.  More than 90 leaders and representatives of organizations from 32 countries participated, including 18 Hungarian American attendees, many of whom are Hungarian American Coalition members. Andrea Lauer Rice, the President of the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) was elected US President of the Hungarian Diaspora Council.

US Diaspora Council Representatives, diplomatic officers and State Secretary for Nation Policy Árpád János Potápi in Budapest on November 14, 2019

During a day of meetings and presentations Diaspora representatives heard speeches from various leaders of the Hungarian government. 

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán discussed Hungary’s demographic challenges and defense policy, geopolitical and European processes, and also pointed out Hungary’s recent diplomatic and economic achievements. He estimated the number of diaspora Hungarians to be 2.5 million, with the majority living in the US and Canada. The Hungarian government has several programs planned to help diaspora communities “join the blood circulation of the Hungarian nation”, he added. He mentioned plans to set up a Hungarian Diaspora Center. The full text of Prime Minister Orbán’s speech is available here. 

Deputy Prime Minister for Hungarian Communities Abroad, Zsolt Semjén told the plenary session that since 2010, diaspora Hungarians have formed part of the Hungarian nation “with equal weight and respect” as ethnic Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin. Semjén celebrated the fact that more than 1.1 million Hungarians have become citizens of the country as a result of simplified citizenship procedures launched by the Fidesz government. He thanked the diaspora for always supporting Hungary and Hungarians even in difficult situations. 

Semjén announced that a new scholarship program will be launched by expanding the Stipendium Hungaricum program. The new scholarships will be offered to descendants of diaspora Hungarians to help them pursue studies at Hungarian universities. The scholarships will cover all financial aspects of the studies. 

Additional presentations were given by Árpád János Potápi, State Secretary for Nation Policy; Levente Magyar, Parliamentary State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Balázs Orbán, Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office in Hungary and Péter Szilágy, Ministerial Commissioner responsible for Hungarian communities abroad. 

After the morning presentations, the Diaspora Council divided into the various regional groups for further discussions and elections of new officers. Coalition President Andrea Lauer Rice was elected President of the US Diaspora Council for a two-year term. She follows in the footsteps of László Hámos, who served as president since its inception in 2011 until his untimely death in 2018. 

Lauer Rice will work with Csilla Grauzer, President of the Minnesota Hungarians and Ildikó Nagy, Director for the Hungarian House of NY, as Vice Presidents. They presented the results of a survey they conducted with Diaspora Council representatives prior to this year’s meeting (available here.) 

After voting unanimously to accept the Closing Statement, representatives of the Diaspora Council attended a reception in the Parliamentary Delegation Room hosted by László Kövér, Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary. 

“The Diaspora Council is a wonderful opportunity for community leaders from across the world to come together and learn from each other” said Lauer Rice. “I am humbled and proud to have been elected US President of the Hungarian Diaspora Council and will do my best to represent the interests of our entire community. Along with Csilla and Ildikó, I look forward to finding ways to work together with all of our colleagues to both strengthen our community and our ties to Hungary.”  

The day before the Diaspora Council, representatives were invited to a cultural day at the Bodri Winery in Szekszárd, Hungary where they had the chance to network informally and watch cultural programs. 

The day after the Diaspora Council meeting, Lauer Rice and the other regional presidents attended the Hungarian Standing Conference (MÁÉRT), to meet Hungarians from all over the world and representatives of Hungarian political parties. They all discussed their current situation and heard about plans of the Orbán government to assist Hungarians outside the country’s borders. The conference ended with a reception at the Sándor Palace, hosted by President János Áder.

That evening, representatives from both conferences attended the Hungary – Uruguay soccer match and the opening ceremony of the Puskás Arena soccer stadium. 

U.S. Participants:

  • Andrea Lauer Rice, President, Hungarian American Coalition
  • Ákos L. Nagy, President, American Hungarian Federation
  • András Demeter, President, Chicago Hungarian Cultural Circle
  • Kati Maharry, Hungarian Club of Colorado
  • Judit Györky, United Hungarian Societies of Cleveland
  • Sarolta Tulipán, Hungarian Community Church of Georgia
  • Zsolt Jakabffy, Los Angeles Hungarian Organizations
  • József Megyeri, Hungarian Communion of Friends
  • Zsolt Szekeres, President, Hungarian Human Rights Foundation
  • Ildikó Nagy, Director, Hungarian House of New York
  • Tamás Badics, Hungarian Society of Massachusetts
  • Éva Beluska, President, Metroplex Magyar Cultural Circle
  • Csilla Grauzer, President, Minnesota Hungarians
  • Imre Juhász, President, Committee of Hungarian Churches and Associations in New Brunswick
  • Ildikó Pataki, San Francisco Hungarian Organizations
  • György Krajcsik, President, Kossuth Club
  • Gábor Kemény, Triangle Hungarian Club
  • Stefan Fedor, President, American Hungarian Heritage House Washington D.C. 
  • Piros Pazaurek, Hungarian Hub and Mózes Kovács, Hungarian American Athletic Club both attended as observers.
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