On December 8, 2012, the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) held its Annual General and Board Meetings at the Kossuth House in Washington, DC. Dr. Peter Kovalszki took over the rotating chairmanship of the organization. The Board elected Dr. Peter Forgach, Founder of the Calasanctius Training Program as Rising Chairman.
The Board elected László Böjtös to serve on the Coalition’s Board of Directors and renewed the Board memberships of the following individuals: Ágnes Fülöp, Géza Kádár, Jr., Dr. Péter Kovalszki, Edith K. Lauer, Zsolt Szekeres, Charles Vámossy and Julius Várallyay, and of the following organizations:Apostolate to the Hungarians (formerly the American Catholic Clergy Association), American Hungarian Foundation, Calvin Synod of the United Church of Christ, Hungarian Communion of Friends, Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, Hungarian Scouts Association in Exteris, Kossuth Foundation, The Bethlen Communities and theWilliam Penn Association for a period of three years.
The Board accepted Hon. Consul László Bőjtös, OH, Csilla Grauzer, MN, Stephen Kurz, MD, Ambassador April Foley, NY, Dr. Ferenc Darvas, Budapest, Christian Sauska, CT, John E. Parkerson, GA, Katalin Vörös, CA, and Hon. Consul Katalin Csiszár, HI, as new individual members and also accepted as new organizational members the Hungarian Community Church of Georgia, GA, the Kossuth Foundation, Washington, DC, and GBU Financial Life, HRFA District 3000, PA, and the Csík Hágó Hungarian School of IL.
The afternoon session of the Board included a comprehensive review of Coalition activities during 2012 and future plans for 2013, presented by President Max Teleki. Dr. Ágnes Fülemile outlined the plans for next year’s folk life festival at the Smithsonian Institution that will focus on Hungarian culture, and she requested the support of the Coalition and the greater Hungarian American community. Tibor Purger briefed the Board on recent elections in Hungary and in the neighboring countries.
In other actions the Board of Directors renewed and confirmed the following roster of officers: Maximilian N. Teleki, President, George Pogan, Secretary and Zsolt Szekeres, Treasurer, Andrea Lauer Rice, and László Fülöp as Vice Presidents for a two-year term. The Board also voted for the following members of the Executive Committee to serve for a period of two years: Andrea Lauer Rice, Dr. Péter Forgach and Imre Lendvai-Lintner.
The Coalition’s weekend activities began on Friday, December 7, with the annual White House Briefing, attended by a delegation of approximately 20 Coalition Board Members and guests. Members of the U.S. government included: John Winant, Director Central – East European Affairs, White House National Security Council (NSC), Brent Hartley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and State Department colleagues: Mr. Mike Morrow, Director, European and Eurasian Affairs, Dr. Jeffrey Zavadil, DRL (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor), and Matthew Singer, Desk Officer for Hungary and Slovakia, EUR. In addition to hearing positive messages from Mr. Winant and Deputy Assistant Secretary Hartley about the successful relationship between the U.S. and Hungary, Coalition representatives had constructive exchanges regarding our regional human rights concerns. These included the issue of dual-citizenship in Slovakia and the reversal of property restitution cases in Romania.
Later that evening, 100 Coalition members and guests attended the traditional Mikulás Dinner hosted by Ambassador György Szapáry at the Hungarian Embassy. Master of Ceremonies Andrea Lauer Rice greeted the distinguished gathering and special guests, including Dr. Tamás Fellegi, Former Minister of National Development of Hungary, Managing Partner, Euroatlantic Solutions, Mr. Brent Hartley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Dr. Ágnes Fülemile, Director of the Balassi Institute, Hungarian Cultural Center, New York, Mr. James Deutsch, Curator of the Hungarian Program, Smithsonian Folk Life Center, Ambassador April H. Foley, Mr. André Goodfriend, Deputy Chief of Mission designate, U.S. Embassy, Budapest, Ms. Susan Hutchison, Executive Director, Charles Simonyi Fund for the Arts and Sciences, Dr. and Mrs. Blaise Pasztory, Mr. Attila Pók, International Director of ELTE’s Social Sciences Department, Mr. Gergely Romsics, Senior Secretary for Academic Affairs, Balassi Institute, Mr. Alan Timberlake, Director of East Central European Center at Columbia University and Hungarian Honorary Consuls from all over the U.S.
Gergely Hajdu-Németh, Executive Director of the American Hungarian Foundation, presented the prestigious Abraham Lincoln Award to the Coalition on the occasion of the Coalition’s 20th anniversary, in recognition the work done over two decades on behalf of Hungarian American relations in the areas of culture, education and support to minority communities in the Carpathian basin.
Concert pianist Judit Neszlény provided a memorable performance of Ferenc Liszt’s Rhapsody No. 12 and also played Christmas carols for the cheerful audience.
In his keynote address, Dr. Fellegi stressed the importance of the Transatlantic Alliance and specifically the unwavering commitment of Hungary to the relationship with the United States and her peoples. He also announced the creation of a US-based foundation whose mission would be to strengthen ties between Hungary and Hungarian American communities. Its goal is to establish a framework of cooperation, in effect, creating a kind of “outreach program” that would reach the Hungarians of North America. Dr. Fellegi underscored the significance of the fact that for the first time since the fall of communism, a Hungarian government is making an earnest effort to engage Hungarians worldwide.